• 24-MAY-2012

  • SOURCE: Rotary International

Polio eradication shifts into emergency mode

New cases at lowest levels ever, but funding gap threatens progress

Geneva, Switzerland 24 May 2012– Despite the dramatic drop in polio cases in the last year, the threat of continued transmission due to funding and immunization gaps has driven the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to launch an Emergency Action Plan.

The plan aims to boost vaccination coverage in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the three remaining polio endemic countries, to levels needed to stop polio transmission. In parallel, health ministers meeting at the World Health Assembly this week are considering a resolution to declare "the completion of polio eradication to be a programmatic emergency for global public health," in an acknowledgement of the urgency of the situation.

Polio eradication activities resulted in several landmark successes in 2010-2012. India, long-regarded as the nation facing the greatest challenges to eradication, was removed from the list of polio-endemic countries in February 2012. Outbreaks in previously polio-free countries were nearly all stopped.