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Polio Eradication in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria - The Final Three
Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus. It is a devastating disease that primarily impacts children and it can survive in the wild, but not for long without a human host. There is no cure, therefore, immunization is the foundation for eradication efforts. Today, polio is almost entirely eradicated from the planet.

Global immunization campaigns have made terrific progress in decreasing wild poliovirus (WPV) cases by over 99 percent in the past 30 years, down from an estimated 350,000 cases in 1988 to 29 reported cases in 2018. While more work needs to be done, the world is closing in on the virus and all eyes are on polio eradication in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria– the three final endemic countries. In the text below, the status of polio in these three countries is presented.

Polio Eradication in Afghanistan

Between the three countries listed above, in 2018 the most global polio cases were reported in Afghanistan. However, Afghanistan is the only endemic country not currently battling vaccine-derived polio, a form that can paralyze, in addition to WPV, which is a victory. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), in conjunction with Afghanistan’s Emergency Operation Centres, has dedicated continuing high-priority surveillance and instituted an aggressive immunization campaign to eradicate WPV in order to protect those most affected.

In November 2018, the country concluded an immunization campaign that targeted over five million children in the highest-risk provinces. These accomplishments are impressive, but at the same time fragile, because every single child must be vaccinated in this rapidly growing country. The Emergency Operation Centres are continuing to work under a National Emergency Action Plan and with local communities to ensure that all children are consistently reached now and in the future.

Polio Eradication in Pakistan

Polio could be eliminated from Pakistan this year, with continued strategic implementation. A vaccination campaign in December reached nearly 40 million children and the number of reported cases in the country is the lowest it has ever been. The race to the finish line requires continued focus on immunity gaps in high-risk and mobile communities, especially those that are close to the places where the virus is still indigenous, as well as continued accountability and high childhood vaccination rates.

Additionally, several of the endemic polio regions remain on the border with Afghanistan, which will require the two countries to continue addressing these WPV strongholds together. This region highlights the continued global threat of a virus that transcends geopolitical boundaries.

Polio Eradication in Nigeria

While WPV has never stopped circulating in Nigeria, there have not been any WPV cases since 2016. This is a terrific start towards wild polio eradication, but Nigeria has seen years without a WPV outbreak in the past only to see it return. The country is also managing continued vaccine-derived outbreaks. While immunization is paramount to eradication, some forms of the vaccine can infect patients and cause an outbreak. Though this adds a complex level to eradication strategies, immunization remains the most viable solution.

Currently, a variety of innovative solutions are underway to reach children in high-risk areas, including international immunization campaigns in the Lake Chad Basin whenever security permits, market vaccinations and seeking out nomadic communities. Similar to Afghanistan and Pakistan, continued efforts remain focused on closing immunity gaps, vaccinating all children and working with the country’s neighbors, but additional support for political and financial commitment is needed in Nigeria.

Going Forward

Wild polio eradication in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria is almost complete, but there are several challenges facing major vaccination efforts. In order to achieve elimination, every single child needs to be immunized. Even one unvaccinated child leaves the entire world at risk of infection.

There are, however, real challenges to this seemingly straightforward goal. Barriers like reaching children in mobile populations or in active conflict zones require international political coordination and more resources for mobile and stationary vaccination teams. Another major barrier is vaccine-derived polio cases, which threaten populations that don’t currently see polio in the wild. Research into the implications of adjusting the vaccine are underway and seek to address eliminating the spread of vaccine-derived infection.

It will not be possible to eradicate every disease with vaccination. Polio is one of the ones that can be. As global health efforts target polio eradication in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, the world will likely be able to list polio next to smallpox and rinderpest on the coveted list of globally eradicated diseases.

– Sarah Fodero

Photo: Flickr

Polio in Nigeria
This year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will start paying off Nigeria’s $76 million debt over the course of the next 20 years. The money was originally borrowed from Japan by Nigeria to fight the polio epidemic in the country.

In 2017, Nigeria had no new cases of polio, which is a significant improvement compared to 2012, when Nigeria accounted for half of all cases worldwide. The Gates Foundation decided to repay the debt on the premise that Nigeria would ramp up its polio vaccination efforts.

The Importance of Polio Eradication

Polio cripples and can potentially kill those who suffer from it. The disease damages spinal nerve cells, causing temporary and sometimes permanent paralysis. Paralysis can sometimes occur within a matter of hours. It is often spread through contaminated food and water. Up to 10 percent of those who become paralyzed die.

Thankfully, there is a vaccine that has contributed to the almost total eradication of polio worldwide. The main problem is getting the vaccine to the children who need it. In order for Nigeria to receive the money from the Gates Foundation, it has to provide vaccine access to at least 80 percent of the country.

The key to eradicating polio in Nigeria is to send health workers across the country to provide the vaccine. Children and families are unable to travel to receive the vaccine, so Nigeria has begun a campaign to bring the vaccine straight to people’s homes, with the support of the Gates Foundation.

Fighting Polio in Nigeria a Priority of the Gates Foundation

Polio in Nigeria was by far the biggest issue in the overall epidemic, which is why Bill and Melinda Gates honed in on the country after announcing that the eradication of polio was their highest priority. In addition to beginning to repay Nigeria’s loan, the Gates Foundation donated $3 billion in 2017 to polio eradication.

The change these donations have made in the epidemic of polio in Nigeria is tangible, since there are currently no known cases in the country. Worldwide, there are only 22 known cases, down from 350,000 cases 30 years ago.

Children today are walking that would have been paralyzed were it not for the generosity of the Gates Foundation and organizations like it. Volunteers on the ground are also the unsung heroes.

On his blog Gates Notes, Bill Gates wrote, “The heroes who have made this progress possible are the millions of vaccinators who have gone door to door to immunize more than 2.5 billion children. Thanks to their work, 16 million people who would have been paralyzed are walking today.” The efforts of these workers should not go unnoticed, as the progress made would not have been possible without people like them.

The progress towards mitigating polio in Nigeria has been phenomenal, with the disease now entirely eradicated from the country. It only takes one child or one traveler for polio to begin to spread again, so it is essential for the countries with a history of the disease to continue their efforts to fight it. Continual vaccinations and immunizations are necessary to maintain the current polio-free Nigeria.

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Flickr

India’s fight against Polio
Polio, or poliomyelitis, is an infectious disease spread through poliovirus. Since the early twentieth century, polio has been widespread in many countries, causing paralysis in thousands of children every year. With the help of various nonprofit organizations and the Global Polio Eradication initiative, the disease is now narrowed down to a handful of nations.

In 2014, India was certified as a polio-free country, leaving Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan on the list for polio eradication programs. India’s fight against polio is a remarkable achievement because of the various challenges the country faced. Nicole Deutsch, the head of polio operations for UNICEF in India, called it a “monumental milestone.”

Polio: Cause and Prevention

Poliovirus is highly contagious, infecting only humans and residing in the throat and intestine of the infected person. It spreads through feces and can contaminate food and water in unsanitary conditions.

The virus affects the brain and spinal cord of the infected person, causing paralysis which cannot be cured. Immunization through inactivated poliovirus vaccine and oral poliovirus vaccine are the only possible methods to fight against the virus. In the case of India, it was the second option which was administered.

India’s Fight Against Polio: the Challenges Faced

India’s fight against polio faced unique challenges, such as its huge population density and an increased birth rate. The number of people living in impoverished conditions with poor sanitation is huge, making them vulnerable to the polio disease.

Lack of education and prejudice among certain sects of the population also hindered the immunization process. Other challenges faced were the unstable healthcare system, which does not support people from all levels of society, and the geographically-dispersed inaccessible terrain, which made the immunization process difficult.

Overcoming these Challenges

Overcoming the challenges of polio eradication was possible due to the combined help provided by UNICEF, WHO, Rotary Club, the Indian government and millions of frontline workers. They took micro-planning strategies to address the challenges faced by the socially, economically, culturally and linguistically diverse country that is India.

India began its oral polio vaccine program in 1978 but it did not gain momentum until 1994, when the local government of New Delhi successfully conducted a mass immunization program for children in the region. From the year 1995, the government of India began organizing National Immunization Day, and in 1997, the first National Polio Surveillance Project was established.

Other initiatives taken include:

  • Involving almost 7,000 trained community mobilizers who went door-to-door, educating people in highly resistant regions.
  • Engaging 2.3 million vaccine administrators who immunized almost 172 million children.
  • The government running advertisements on print media, television and radio.
  • Enlisting famous Bollywood and sports celebrities to create awareness among common people.
  • Involving religious and community leaders in encouraging parents to vaccinate their children.

Inspiration for Other Countries

In 2009, almost 741 polio cases were reported in India, which dropped down to 42 in 2010, until the last case was reported in 2011 in the eastern state of West Bengal. This unprecedented success is an inspiration for countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, where the disease is still looming at large.

India’s fight against polio has set an example in the world that the country can be proud of, but the fight is not over yet. Although India has been declared polio-free by the WHO, it is of the utmost importance that the nation continue to assist other nations still facing the polio epidemic.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr

Polio Eradication
Around 30 years ago, 350,000 people annually were disabled by polio. Since then, the disease has been reduced globally by 99.9 percent. Only eight new cases were reported this year. Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan are the three remaining countries where polio exists. Nonetheless, governments and non-profits continue to work toward polio eradication, with some experts believing the disease could be eradicated as soon as 2020.

In June 2017, at Rotary International’s annual convention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary International jointly announced their pledge of $450 million toward polio eradication. At the same time, world governments and other donors pledged a total of $1.2 billion to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

GPEI is a collaborative effort among Rotary International, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and UNICEF to combat polio.

The good news continued in August of this year when the United Kingdom announced that they would be pledging £100 million to the fight against polio. This funding will provide immunizations to 45 million children per year until 2020.

Though prior to this summer there was a funding gap of $1.5 billion for polio eradication, that shortfall has now been reduced to $170 million due to the contributions of Rotary International, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom as well as others.

While the focus now is on the three countries where polio still exists, the GPEI and its partner organizations still monitor polio in other at-risk countries.

Although the United Nations declared Somalia polio free, President Farmaajo stated that vaccination campaigns remain crucial. He noted that Somalia is still vulnerable and that polio eradication in Somalia “…was [a] collective effort and commitment by many young men and women who sacrificed their lives.”

The infrastructure built to combat polio in Somalia continues to be used to respond to other outbreaks including measles and cholera. Polio also tends to infect regions marred in conflict. In 2013, there were polio outbreaks in Central Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. The GPEI managed to end the outbreaks less than a year later.

Nigeria, one of the three countries on the endemic list, was taken off the list at one point after two years with no reported cases. Soon after, four children were paralyzed by polio in northern Nigeria. In response, the GPEI strengthened its polio surveillance operations.

It takes three years with no reported cases of a disease for it to be declared eradicated. Smallpox is the only eradicated disease in history. The United Kingdom International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, stated that, “The world is closer than it has ever been to eradicating polio, but as long as just one case exists in the world, children everywhere are still at risk.”

Due to the contributions of multiple governmental and non-governmental organizations, polio eradication is an achievable goal for the international community.

Sean Newhouse

Photo: Flickr


The Gates Foundation, alongside government organizations from around the globe, is working hard to eliminate the polio virus. Rob Nabors, Director of the Gates Foundation, who oversees policy, advocacy, government relations and communications says he doesn’t think the general public realizes that, in the next two years, polio could be completely eradicated on a global scale.

The poliovirus is passed through contaminated feces and is spread as a result of poor hygiene and sanitation. It is responsible for millions of people becoming paralyzed before vaccines became widely available in the 1950s.

Since the launch of global eradication efforts in 1988, polio incidences across the globe have dropped more than 99 percent. The disease’s occurrence rate plunged to 233 recorded cases in 2012 and occurred in only three countries: Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. India, which was once considered to have the greatest challenge of eliminating polio, was declared free of the disease in February 2012.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four of the six regions of the World Health Organization have been certified polio-free. This includes the Americas in 1994, the Western Pacific in 2000, Europe in 2002 and Southeast Asia in 2014. This constitutes 80 percent of the world’s population currently living in polio-free areas.

Nabors and the rest of the Gates Foundation work hard to educate nations around the globe on the impact of their help. The organization believes it is up to those educated on polio to explain to audiences in the developed world exactly how important the leadership of polio-free countries actually is.

Unfortunately, budget cuts could have a significant impact on the complete eradication of the disease. Proposed cuts in the United States would shrink the budget from $30 billion in 2017 to $20.7 billion in 2018. These proposed budget cuts would make it difficult for organizations such as the Gates Foundation to interact with federal programs. The result would be that areas in need of polio vaccinations and education would not receive nearly as much help.

If polio were to be eliminated, it would become the second disease, the first being smallpox, to be eradicated globally. Proper funds for the delivery of polio vaccinations to areas in need is crucial for the disease’s eradication.

Drew Hazzard

Photo: Flickr

The Good News: Polio Eradication by 2020
With the support of public and private institutions such as WHO, Rotary International, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, polio case numbers have decreased by 99 percent since 1988.

Moreover, 80 percent of the world’s population is now living in certified polio-free regions. There are just three countries that have been unable to stop the spread within their communities: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

In these countries, progress had been slowed due to weak health infrastructures as well as ongoing political conflicts and security concerns.

Just last year as Nigeria had been declared free of polio, new cases appeared in Borno state. This area had been inaccessible due to the control of the militant group Boko Haram; thus, medical professionals were unable to provide the vaccinations and preventative measures needed to stop the virus from circulating.

Despite these setbacks, complete and successful polio eradication in all countries is still expected by 2020. According to Bill Gates, fulfilling this timeline would require the last case of polio to be recorded in 2017, where a three-year period will ensure that the virus has completely disappeared.

Polio, which has not been a huge health crisis in the majority of countries, has existed in low-income countries where it has affected mainly children under the age of five. One in 200 infection leads to irreversible paralysis. However, the preventative measures are easy.

Although there are two forms of the vaccine, oral polio vaccine (OPV) and inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), just one dose of OPV costs as little as 14 cents.

Last week, with the help of Gates, billionaire philanthropists such as former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Ray Dalio, chairman and co-chief investment officer of Bridgewater Associates LP, collectively donated more than $70 million toward the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. These costs have brought the efforts a step closer to the $7 billion required to fund these low-cost vaccines and overall eradication efforts.

Dalio, through a representative, said, “Just from an investment perspective, eradication makes sense. It will eliminate future financial burden, and unlock doors to economic productivity around the world.”

With a proven track record of eliminating polio in various countries and with the additions of donated funds to this global initiative for polio eradication, WHO and participating institutions can achieve the goal of polio eradication by 2020.

In 1988 polio affected 125 countries and paralyzed 350,000 people every year, but there are now less than 100 cases — soon this number will reach zero.

Priscilla Son

Photo: Flickr

Polio-Free Nigeria July 24, 2016, marks Nigeria’s two-year anniversary without any new polio cases. This is a significant step toward certification for polio-free Nigeria in 2017.

Known to mainly affect young children, poliomyelitis (polio) is spread through fecal-oral transmission and by consuming contaminated food or water. The virus multiplies in the intestine, and can invade the nervous system and cause paralysis.

On September 25, 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) removed Nigeria from the polio-endemic list. The disease only remains endemic in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

This is the longest Nigeria has gone without signs of the poliovirus and is certainly an important milestone.  However, President Muhammadu Buhari highlights that “we have not recorded any case of polio in the last two years, but we should not be complacent.”

In order to declare Nigeria completely polio-free, authorities are now focusing on  vaccinations – and making sure everyone gets them. According to WHO, failure to treat just one person could lead to additional run-ins with the virus, up to 200,000 new cases each year, all around the world.

In 2012, Nigeria accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide. However, with the combined efforts of the government, leaders and thousands of health workers, that statistic has greatly diminished and Nigeria is moving toward a polio-free state. Volunteers have immunized more than 45 million children under the age of five.

The establishment and funding of health programs have also had a serious hand in Nigeria’s success. The Hard-to-Reach project has gone the extra mile, operating in high-risk states in Nigeria. While polio is the main focus of these camps, other services such as prenatal care, routine vaccines, basic medicines, screening for malnutrition and health education are also offered.

If the country continues to follow through with the necessary medical procedures and protect new individuals from contracting the virus, a polio-free Nigeria could be a reality in the very near future.

Mikaela Frigillana

Photo: Flickr

polio_eradication_in_afghanistan
On Sept. 30, 2015, the Minister of Public Health of Afghanistan, Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, officially introduced the Inactive Polio Vaccine (IPV) into the vaccination program for all children under the age of 1 in Afghanistan. The vaccine is now available, free of charge, at health facilities across the country.

There were 12 reported cases of polio in Afghanistan in 2015. Afghanistan is one of three countries in the world which are still labeled “polio endemic” by the World Health Organization (WHO). The goal of this new vaccine is to enable polio eradication in Afghanistan.

The IPV, coupled with the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV), which is already in the routine immunization schedule, boosts the immunity of children against polio and prevents polio transmission. IPV provides immunity to all three types of polio viruses.

Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, World Health Organization country representative, stated, “The introduction of IPV is a crucial step towards securing a polio-free Afghanistan and protecting the health of children.”

“Provision of the IPV vaccine is a key step to protect children from polio, and this should be supported by an ongoing effort to make parents and caregivers of children aware of the importance of IPV and all other vaccines,” said Akhil Lyer, UNICEF representative in Afghanistan.

The introduction of IPV would eventually require the removal of OPV once polio transmission has been interrupted in order to sustain a polio-free environment. However, since polio in Afghanistan is still prevalent, it is suggested that Afghans accept OPV and IPV when offered.

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: Health Canal, WHO
Photo: Polio Eradication

polio
Polio can have devastating effects on victims. Usually with little or no symptoms, the disease cripples and eventually paralyzes its victims. In a 2013-14 Polio outbreak in the Horn of Africa, 223 children were paralyzed due to Polio.

The disease is transmitted through human feces, which often gets mixed with drinking sources. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2.4 billion people worldwide do not have access to improved sanitation facilities.

Due to this, polio has been one of the most persistent diseases to plague the developing world. Vaccines have existed for some time now and have become more and more accessible to developing nations due to aggressive world health initiatives. Since there is no cure, strategies to immunize children have been utilized to eradicate the disease.

There is hope now that complete elimination is right around the corner. On August 11, 2015, the continent of Africa celebrated being polio free for one year, with the last reported case in Somalia last year on August 11. Polio virus surveillance has improved significantly over the years and Nigeria, a hotspot for the virus, reported its last case of polio over a year ago in July of 2014.

With Africa becoming polio free for the last year, the last two remaining nations to report infections are now Afghanistan and Pakistan. With more resources now able to target those nations, protocols in Africa must continue to be implemented on a consistent basis to prevent a relapse.

For that to happen, four tasks must be implemented.

First, surveillance methods must continue to be built upon and improved. Dr Hamid Jafari, Director of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative at WHO, warns that there is no guarantee that zero reported infections means the fight is won. He is quoted saying, “in the past we have had year-long periods when we thought the polio virus had gone from the Horn of Africa and central Africa, only to find out that we were simply missing transmission because our surveillance systems were not strong enough to spot cases.”

The second task requires creating programs to reach missing children. There are still pockets of children not vaccinated in rural areas in Africa. Security issues have kept health officials from reaching them. Any child without the vaccine is vulnerable to the virus. Increasing vaccination must remain a top priority.

Thirdly, routine immunization efforts must continue to ensure no relapse. It is not enough to just immunize the current generation. Children of the future must be continuously immunized to prevent the virus from reemerging.

According to WHO this can be done “in Africa: Angola, Chad, DRC, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan, by partnering notably with such organizations as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Strengthening routine immunization in these countries will help to reach the significant numbers of children who remain unvaccinated there, giving the poliovirus less opportunity than ever to circulate.”

Lastly, strong leadership is needed to ensure that initiatives stay in place and countries stay steadfast to the cause. Key contributors such as the UK, Saudi Arabia and the United States must continue to provide aid and support local efforts in Africa. Much is still needed to completely eradicate polio in Africa, but the night is always darkest before the dawn.

Adnan Khalid

Sources: Business Day Live, Global Polio Eradication Initiative, World Health Organization
Photo: Seattle Times

polio_eradication_in_nigeria

1. Is Nigeria “polio-free?”

Not yet. Global health organizations have not documented a case of polio in Nigeria–one of three nations that have never fully eradicated polio–since July 24, 2014. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) will not declare Nigeria “polio-free” until the West African nation reaches a full year with no new cases.

2. Is it probable that polio will permanently be eradicated in Nigeria?

That depends on whom you ask. On one hand, polio eradication in Nigeria has almost been successful, and recent media coverage seems hopeful that no new cases will appear in the twenty-some days before the WHO’s approval. Eradication of polio on the entire contiguous continent of Africa also seems plausible, as officials declared in June 2015 that the outbreaks in Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia and Kenya are no longer health threats. This could mean that worldwide efforts to eradicate polio from Africa have improved since the outbreaks began in 2013.

However, some health officials warn that the world should not be too quick to celebrate. Hamid Jafari, the polio chief at the WHO, warned that the virus is very difficult to detect.

“We are not yet certain that the wild polio virus is gone from the African continent,” said Jafari, “there are areas in the African region in the northeast of Nigeria, Lake Chad, the north of Cameroon where the situation is uncertain security-wise. We may have undetected transmission of polio virus there.”

3. Why is polio so difficult to detect in Nigeria?

There are a variety of health and political concerns that have made the nation difficult to vaccinate since the early 2000s. From the medical perspective, people often spread the virus without showing any symptoms. Only one in 200 polio cases causes paralysis.

In short, the fact that health officials have not reported any cases does not mean that people in Nigeria are not infected.

Additionally, some areas in Nigeria–like the locations that Jafari referenced above–are near impossible for vaccination teams to reach because of the control of Islamic militant groups. Boko Haram, one of the most “lethal and resilient” jihadist groups in the history of Nigeria, has repeatedly denounced efforts to eradicate polio, claiming that vaccinations are a ploy by the West to sterilize Muslim children.

4. Is religious opposition to vaccinations in Nigeria the source of the problem?

Not really. Boko Haram’s skepticism and violence toward polio vaccination campaigns is based more on its opposition to Western culture than the specific religious beliefs of Islam. Boko Haram is a loose translation of “Western education is forbidden.” Present in Nigeria since 2002 and active in military operations since 2009, Boko Haram is a group of roughly 9,000 men (according to CIA estimates) that seeks to establish the Islamic State in Nigeria by purging the nation of Western influence.

Analysts say that governmental effort to reduce Nigeria’s chronic poverty and construct an education system that is inclusive of local Muslims is the only way to eliminate the threat of Boko Haram. However, the violent actions of jihadist groups against vaccination campaigns are not representative of the entire Islamic community in Nigeria.

Although resistant to vaccination efforts initially, Muslim leaders were actively involved and very influential in vaccination campaigns in the years before 2012, often citing moral principles as justification.

“We don’t care if it’s something that will affect you and your family alone. But [if] you don’t comply with us, you allow your child to go—he’s going to spread it to 200 other innocent children around the vicinity,” said Nigeria’s top-ranking Muslim and the “polio point man” for the region of Kano, Wada Mohamed Aliyu.

5. What outside assistance do foreign organizations provide to Nigeria?

National and local municipalities and organizations in Nigeria play a role in polio detection and prevention as well as immunization, but many global actors have greatly contributed to efforts in order to eradicate the virus. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), spearheaded by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, UNICEF, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have worked with Nigerian groups to lower the global incidence of polio by 99% since 1988. The GPEI and its associated organizations have not only financially funded eradication efforts but have also actively been strategic partners that have provided technical and political support to Nigeria. Gavi, the vaccine alliance, has also been a major player in facilitating the implementation of inactive polio vaccines, which work in tandem with oral polio vaccines to secure a polio-free world.

Paulina Menichiello

Sources: NPR 1, NPR 2 , BBC, NPR 3, NPR 4, Polio Eradication
Photo: Monitor Healthcare