World Polio Day – 24 October 2013
Events worldwide mark World Polio Day, as efforts to eradicate the disease intensify
Partners, governments, civil society and communities worldwide are today marking World Polio Day, as efforts to eradicate this disease once and for all are being intensified.
In 2013, there are reasons both for celebration and concern.
There has been remarkable progress over the last year, bringing us closer than ever to achieving a polio-free world:
- Wild poliovirus (WPV) cases in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan – the last three endemic countries – are down 40% compared to this time last year. Poliovirus in these countries continues to be geographically restricted.
- WPV type 3 (WPV3) has not been detected anywhere in the world since November 2012.
- Afghanistan may have succeeded in halting endemic poliovirus circulation, with no cases in the traditionally endemic Southern Region since November 2012.
The polio program is preparing now to take advantage of the upcoming annual “low season” for polio transmission in early 2014: a critical opportunity to capitalize on progress and interrupt transmission in endemic countries.
At the same time, however, the urgency of interrupting transmission in these countries is only reinforced by the tapering outbreak in the Horn of Africa and this week’s reports of two suspected polio cases in Syria. As long as polio remains endemic anywhere, children everywhere will remain at risk. If children in the remaining endemic areas can be reached, the end of polio will follow, protecting children everywhere from this disease and paving the way for delivery of other life-saving interventions.
This is no time for complacency, and efforts must be redoubled to ensure this disease is eradicated once and for all. World Polio Day marks the perfect opportunity to remind us of this fact.
Help celebrate World Polio Day – below are just a few examples of activities happening around the world to mark this important day.
- Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO Assistant Director-General for polio, emergencies and country collaboration
- Dr. Robert Murphy, Director of the Center for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine