‘Let a polio-free world be our legacy’

A boy receives polio vaccine. Cases of polio have declined to 171 in 2011. Photo by: ASCOM Prefeitura de Votuporanga / CC BY

On World Polio Day, the World Health Organization stressed the need to intensify campaigns to eradicate the highly infectious viral disease.

“We have all the necessary tools to eradicate this disease,” said Oliver Rosenbauer, spokesman for the WHO Global Polio Eradication Initiative, adding that wiping out polio now depends on “political and societal will.” Rosenbauer warned that as many as 200,000 new cases annually could be seen within the next decade “if we don’t finish the job now.”

Since last year’s World Polio Day, the number of new polio cases dropped from 467 to 171. The number of polio-endemic countries also became one nation fewer: India graduated from the list after having had a year without new polio cases. Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan remain on the list.

In a statement for World Polio Day, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said the international community has the means to eradicate polio. He urged the community to make history and “let a polio-free world be our legacy to the next generation of children.”

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    Adrienne Valdez

    Adrienne Valdez is a staff writer for Devex, covering breaking international development news for the Development Newswire. Before joining Devex, Adrienne worked as a news correspondent for a public-sector modernization publication.