Winning the War on Polio


January 13, 2014, India was declared polio-free by the World Health Organization. Five years ago, India accounted for nearly half the new polio cases in the world, but has now gone three years without a single case of wild poliovirus. It is an amazing feat that speaks to the dedication of doctors, volunteers and many supporting organizations and foundations.

There are only three countries left where polio hasn’t been stopped: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

And, it can be stopped. The poliovirus can’t survive long without a human host. We’ve already eradicated Type 2 wild poliovirus. It’s gone… forever… never to permanently cripple another child again.

Consider the following timeline put together by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative:

Year Polio-Endemic Countries Polio-Free Countries
1988 125 71
1991 90 106 Last case of wild poliovirus in the Americas
1994 80 116 Western Hemisphere declared polio-free
1997 70 126 Last case of wild poliovirus in Western Pacific Region
1998 40 156
2000 20 176 Western Pacific Region declared polio-free
2003 10 186
2005 5 191
2012 3 193
Today 3 194 India declared polio-free

There’s still much to do, but it is possible for us to win this fight. It requires the immunization of everyone in the affected regions, many of which are in difficult areas to reach for any number of reasons. Each of the remaining countries where it is endemic face their own special challenges. However, with single doses, which can be administered orally by volunteers, cost approximately $0.11 each.

If you’d like more specific information on how India accomplished this great achievement, take a look at the following packet:

Download (PDF, 5.75MB)

A special thanks needs to go out to Rotary, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, World Health Organization, the doctors, nurses and countless volunteers for all they have done in pursuit of eradicating this debilitating disease.


Further Reading: