Current Assessment of Progress toward Polio Eradication

The following is directly from the June 2014 Special Alert edition of Polio News. Polio News is produced by The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). The following article is an explanation of the current state of worldwide polio eradication. As you read it, you will see both very positive news and some not so positive. The not so positive news is the type of problems expected by the Endgame Strategy document. The document was written by the GPEI and gives the road map to final eradication of polio.

Remember, the yearly caseload the world’s population incurs is less then 1% of the caseload count before PolioPlus was started in the 1980’s. The problems with final eradication are in high conflict areas. Then again, India had the highest caseload at 700 in 2009. The feeling was India would be the gate to eradication and because of many factors including political stress it was impossible to ever totally eradicate polio. This year saw India being removed from the list of the final 4 endemic countries. There are now only 3. WE ARE THIS CLOSE!!!!!!!

On 2 June 2014, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) released its ninth quarterly report assessing progress toward polio eradication, including recommendations to overcome challenges and providing an independent assessment of the progress being made towards the eradication of polio. The IMB meets twice a year, and consists of nine global experts, sitting in their personal capacity.

Key findings from the report include: 

  • During 2013 and so far in 2014, countries and their partners have made considerable strides responding to outbreaks and creating innovative solutions to end transmission in endemic countries.
  • Of note, Nigeria is showing encouraging progress and innovations in its program. Afghanistan, too, has made strong progress, and the IMB recommends continued improvement in operational quality and access in the southern and eastern regions.
  • However, the IMB expresses alarm about the situation in Pakistan, noting the high likelihood that transmission of virus will continue into 2015. The IMB has recommended further strengthening of emergency management of polio eradication in Pakistan given the declaration of public health emergency of international concern under the International Health Regulation (IHR).
  • The report emphasizes the urgent need in Nigeria to manage the risks of upcoming elections and recent exacerbation of insecurity.
  • While the IMB commends the outbreak responses in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, it also expresses concern about the slow response in Central Africa, and recommends stronger global capacity and processes for outbreak response.
  • The IMB welcomes the WHO Director-General’s declaration of a public health emergency of international concern and recommendations for vaccination of travellers leaving polio-exporting and –infected countries.
  • The report calls for stronger coordination among partners in providing vaccinators and social mobilizers with appropriate communications skills. 
  • IMB encouraged the program to develop more clear formats to provide financial and budget information that can be understood easily and followed by all stakeholders.  

The GPEI would like to thank IMB members for their thorough feedback, which is instrumental in improving our work and overcoming the remaining obstacles to a polio-free world. Many of the recommendations are already being implemented, and others are under active planning.


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