In 2018, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative marks its 30-year anniversary. In the last 30 years, the world has made incredible strides toward the goal of achieving a polio-free future. Since 1988, wild polio cases have been reduced by over 99% – down to a historic low of just 22 cases throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2017. However, transmission has continued into 2018 and the program faces key challenges. There have been 19 cases of wild polio so far this year, in addition to ongoing VDPV outbreaks and areas where children remain out of reach.
World Polio Day presents an opportunity to rally partners, donors, health workers and communities around the importance of addressing challenges and sustaining the commitment and funding needed to finish the job.
To end polio for good, we must take bold steps in this challenging last mile of eradication. As long as polio exists anywhere, it is a threat to children everywhere. Continued innovation and program improvements to reach kids everywhere and detect and stop outbreaks, along with increased political and financial commitment, are necessary to finish the job. This worldwide effort will bring about the eradication of the second human disease in history, and most importantly, ensure that no child – or parent – will have to fear the paralysis the virus causes ever again.