Skip to content

Eradication of polio

50 projects for a better future - celebrating five decades of projects making a difference

Project 5 of 10
Polio 1920X1080

Getty Images

Eradication of polio

Once a global scourge, polio is now close to total elimination, with only a handful of cases reported worldwide every year. Although a vaccine has been available since the 1950s, the drive to finally wipe out the disease began in 1988 with the formation of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). A multi-partner initiative including the World Health Organization and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the GPEI fosters collaboration between national governments, thousands of polio vaccinators, health workers and community organisers. Together they reach more than 400 million children every year in more than 40 countries with over one billion doses of polio vaccines.

“If we let our guard down for a minute, polio can spring back. We cannot let this happen. Let us eradicate this crippling disease once and for all.” – Ban Ki-moon, former UN secretary-general

99.9% – the decline in global polio cases between 1988 (350,000) and 2001 (483)

20 million people are walking today who would have otherwise been paralysed by polio since 1988

Just two countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan) in which wild polio cases were diagnosed in 2019