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Updates on CDC’s Polio Eradication Efforts, December 2, 2011

December 2, 2011

CDC Ramps up Support of Global Polio Eradication Effort

On December 2, 2011, CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, activated CDC’s Emergency Operations Center to strengthen the agency’s partnership engagement through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), which is committed to completing the eradication of polio. On December 14, Dr. Frieden enlisted the support of the entire CDC community to become active participants in an intensified strategy to eradicate polio worldwide.

The Global Push toward the Finish Line

Polio incidence has dropped more than 99 percent since the launch of global polio eradication efforts in 1988, and no polio cases have been reported since January 2011 in India—one of the four remaining endemic countries. Nevertheless, poliovirus transmission is ongoing in the other three endemic countries—Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan, and travelers have carried the infection back to 39 previously polio-free countries over the last several years. Three of these countries—Angola, Chad, and Democratic Republic of the Congo—have continued to experience transmission of poliovirus for more than one year, raising concerns that a window of opportunity to eradicate this crippling and sometimes deadly disease may be closing. It is therefore imperative that we give this final push toward eradication our best effort. As Dr. Frieden has stated, “If we fail to get over the finish line, we will need to continue expensive control measures for the indefinite future…More importantly, without eradication, every year, polio could disable or kill more than 100,000 children.”

CDC’s Role in the Current Global Polio Eradication Effort

In the final push toward global polio eradication, CDC will continue its close collaboration with our partners at WHO, UNICEF, Rotary, and the Gates Foundation to ensure a coordinated global and country-level response.

CDC’s scale-up of polio eradication activities will include:

  • Providing technical assistance for outbreak response, surveillance reviews, and vaccination campaign planning and monitoring;
  • Advancing efforts to strengthen immunization infrastructure in key areas related to polio eradication;
  • Supporting efforts to strengthen management capacity;
  • Actively seeking out, evaluating, and scaling up effective innovations to identify and vaccinate children;
  • Reinforcing CDC country offices resources, and increasing in-country planning and coordination; and
  • Facilitating partner engagement and enhanced support for countries most threatened by endemic or recurrent polio outbreaks.

CDC’s partnership in this important eradication effort continues the fight to rid the world of polio that began with CDC’s polio vaccination and disease surveillance efforts in the agency’s early years and sustains the ideal of a world forever free from this deadly and crippling disease.

 
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