Global Polio Eradication History Project

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is a public-private partnership led by national governments with five partners – the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its goal is to eradicate polio worldwide.

In 2016, the GPEI History Project was established to ensure the documentation of the history of global polio eradication, the global partnership, lessons learned, and recognize those involved in the effort. While GPEI partners have been focused on their own institutional polio history, this project concentrates on the partnership and the legacy of this global collaboration over the last 30 years.  The photos presented show a selection of artifacts collected since the inception of the project

Global Polio Eradication Initiative: Origin Story

At the 41st World Health Assembly in May 1988, resolution WHA 41.28 was adopted, marking the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and the push for worldwide polio eradication. Months later, the first consultation on polio eradication was held in Geneva, and these documents were shared. Dr. Peter Patriarca was in attendance and recalls: “I felt like a kid in a candy store, surrounded by legends from the previous smallpox eradication era. For several months I had been helping Rafe Henderson and others craft the first polio eradication plan, the ambitions of which monumentally exceeded the human, technical and financial resources that were available at the time. We all knew that, but were merely interested in planting the first seeds of hope.” (Donor: Peter Patriarca) (1 of 2)

At the 41st World Health Assembly in May 1988, resolution WHA 41.28 was adopted, marking the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and the push for worldwide polio eradication. Months later, the first consultation on polio eradication was held in Geneva, and these documents were shared. Dr. Peter Patriarca was in attendance and recalls: “I felt like a kid in a candy store, surrounded by legends from the previous smallpox eradication era. For several months I had been helping Rafe Henderson and others craft the first polio eradication plan, the ambitions of which monumentally exceeded the human, technical and financial resources that were available at the time. We all knew that, but were merely interested in planting the first seeds of hope.” (Donor: Peter Patriarca) (1 of 2)

At the 41st World Health Assembly in May 1988, resolution WHA 41.28 was adopted, marking the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and the push for worldwide polio eradication. Months later, the first consultation on polio eradication was held in Geneva, and these documents were shared. Dr. Peter Patriarca was in attendance and recalls: “I felt like a kid in a candy store, surrounded by legends from the previous smallpox eradication era. For several months I had been helping Rafe Henderson and others craft the first polio eradication plan, the ambitions of which monumentally exceeded the human, technical and financial resources that were available at the time. We all knew that, but were merely interested in planting the first seeds of hope.” (Donor: Peter Patriarca) (2 of 2)

At the 41st World Health Assembly in May 1988, resolution WHA 41.28 was adopted, marking the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and the push for worldwide polio eradication. Months later, the first consultation on polio eradication was held in Geneva, and these documents were shared. Dr. Peter Patriarca was in attendance and recalls: “I felt like a kid in a candy store, surrounded by legends from the previous smallpox eradication era. For several months I had been helping Rafe Henderson and others craft the first polio eradication plan, the ambitions of which monumentally exceeded the human, technical and financial resources that were available at the time. We all knew that, but were merely interested in planting the first seeds of hope.” (Donor: Peter Patriarca) (2 of 2)

The Science of Polio Eradication

Vial of oral polio vaccine

This vial of oral polio vaccine was carried in the pocket of Jean Clare Smith from Yangon, Myanmar to Nonthaburi, Thailand to test the newly launched vaccine vial monitor (VVM). It took the VVM a full 72 hours to reveal a color change, reflecting the vaccine‘s downgrade in potency. (1996) (Donor: Anne-Renee Heningburg on behalf of the late Bob Keegan)

“This graphic is a dendrogram (family tree) showing type 2 vaccine-derived polioviruses (VDPV2) from Nigeria, Niger and Guinea from 2005 – 2010. The analysis was performed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on 30 June 2010 using sequences of the capsid VP1 protein of 355 viruses, in comparison to the Sabin 2 oral polio vaccine strain. These sequences share 99.4 to 95% identity with the Sabin 2 VP1 sequence and represent several overlapping outbreaks.” – Cara Burns, Head of the Polio Surveillance Laboratory, Division of Viral Diseases (Donor: Cara Burns)

“This graphic is a dendrogram (family tree) showing type 2 vaccine-derived polioviruses (VDPV2) from Nigeria, Niger and Guinea from 2005 – 2010. The analysis was performed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on 30 June 2010 using sequences of the capsid VP1 protein of 355 viruses, in comparison to the Sabin 2 oral polio vaccine strain. These sequences share 99.4 to 95% identity with the Sabin 2 VP1 sequence and represent several overlapping outbreaks.” – Cara Burns, Head of the Polio Surveillance Laboratory, Division of Viral Diseases (Donor: Cara Burns)

Two vials of trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV). The vial on the left was used in Mumbai, India, and the vial on the right was used in Rixensart, Belgium.

Two vials of trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV). The vial on the left was used in Mumbai, India, and the vial on the right was used in Rixensart, Belgium.

This disposal box was used in Nepal in 2016 to collect unused trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV) as part of the switch from tOPV to bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV). (Donor: Apophia Namageyo) (1 of 2)

This disposal box was used in Nepal in 2016 to collect unused trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV) as part of the switch from tOPV to bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV). (Donor: Apophia Namageyo) (1 of 2)

This disposal box was used in Nepal in 2016 to collect unused trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV) as part of the switch from tOPV to bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV). (Donor: Apophia Namageyo) (2 of 2)

This disposal box was used in Nepal in 2016 to collect unused trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV) as part of the switch from tOPV to bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV). (Donor: Apophia Namageyo) (2 of 2)

This commemorative T-shirt was made by members of the Task Force for Global Health and shared with core staff from the CDC, WHO, and UNICEF working on the switch from trivalent oral polio (tOPV) vaccine to bivalent (bOPV) oral polio vaccine. (2016) (Donor: Alan Hinman) (1 of 2)

This commemorative T-shirt was made by members of the Task Force for Global Health and shared with core staff from the CDC, WHO, and UNICEF working on the switch from trivalent oral polio (tOPV) vaccine to bivalent (bOPV) oral polio vaccine. (2016) (Donor: Alan Hinman) (1 of 2)

A Global Effort: Materials from the Field

This “Stop Polio” paddle was collected in Pakistan, where it was used by police to direct traffic outside of vaccination centers. The paddle signifies the importance of police involvement and support throughout polio vaccination efforts for security purposes and to instill trust in locals. (2014) (Donor: Elias Durry)

This “Stop Polio” paddle was collected in Pakistan, where it was used by police to direct traffic outside of vaccination centers. The paddle signifies the importance of police involvement and support throughout polio vaccination efforts for security purposes and to instill trust in locals. (2014) (Donor: Elias Durry)

This visor was used in Bihar in 2007 during efforts to support UNICEF and WHO in raising awareness around monitoring polio campaigns in high risk districts. Public health advisor Alice Pope wore the visor while giving and distributing vaccines and monitoring activities. Hats and vests were important because they allowed vaccinators to be easily recognized. “It reminds me of the hundreds if not thousands of workers that I worked alongside during my time in India,” Alice shared. (Donor: Alice Pope)

This visor was used in Bihar in 2007 during efforts to support UNICEF and WHO in raising awareness around monitoring polio campaigns in high risk districts. Public health advisor Alice Pope wore the visor while giving and distributing vaccines and monitoring activities. Hats and vests were important because they allowed vaccinators to be easily recognized. “It reminds me of the hundreds if not thousands of workers that I worked alongside during my time in India,” Alice shared. (Donor: Alice Pope)

This type of vest was worn by vaccinators in Afghanistan. GPEI partner logos can be seen on the front and back. (Donor: Margaret Hercules)

This type of vest was worn by vaccinators in Afghanistan. GPEI partner logos can be seen on the front and back. (Donor: Margaret Hercules)

This flip chart was developed by Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program volunteers. It was used to train vaccinators in the field in preparation for polio immunization campaigns.  (Donor: Anne-Renee Heningburg) (1 of 2)

This flip chart was developed by Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program volunteers. It was used to train vaccinators in the field in preparation for polio immunization campaigns. (Donor: Anne-Renee Heningburg) (1 of 2)

This flip chart was developed by Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program volunteers. It was used to train vaccinators in the field in preparation for polio immunization campaigns.  (Donor: Anne-Renee Heningburg) (2 of 2)

This flip chart was developed by Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program volunteers. It was used to train vaccinators in the field in preparation for polio immunization campaigns. (Donor: Anne-Renee Heningburg) (2 of 2)

This banner was used in India to advertise local Immunization Days. It features GPEI partner logos and text in different languages. (Donor: Yinka Kerr)

This banner was used in India to advertise local Immunization Days. It features GPEI partner logos and text in different languages. (Donor: Yinka Kerr)

This banner was used in Uttar Pradesh, India as part of a series of polio vaccination campaigns from 2002-2005. The banner features logos for UNICEF, Rotary, WHO, and CDC, among others. Its text is written in Hindi. (Donor: Brian Wheeler)

This banner was used in Uttar Pradesh, India as part of a series of polio vaccination campaigns from 2002-2005. The banner features logos for UNICEF, Rotary, WHO, and CDC, among others. Its text is written in Hindi. (Donor: Brian Wheeler)

This photo was taken during a meeting of the India Expert Advisory Group on Polio Eradication (IEAG) circa 2001-2002. During a coffee break, the women in the photo noted that they formed a vast minority at the male-dominated meeting. After this photo was taken, they dubbed themselves the “Ladies in Polio,” AKA LIPs. A calendar with photos and stories about the individual women and their roles in polio was also developed and sold as a fundraiser. The women depicted are: Anne Golaz, Nancy Dougherty, Ellyn Ogden, Rena Dey, Denise Johnson, Julie Jenks, Sunita Durrani, Roma Solomon, Monica Chellaramani, and Tanushri Mitra. (Donor: Anne-Renee Heningburg)

This photo was taken during a meeting of the India Expert Advisory Group on Polio Eradication (IEAG) circa 2001-2002. During a coffee break, the women in the photo noted that they formed a vast minority at the male-dominated meeting. After this photo was taken, they dubbed themselves the “Ladies in Polio,” AKA LIPs. A calendar with photos and stories about the individual women and their roles in polio was also developed and sold as a fundraiser. The women depicted are: Anne Golaz, Nancy Dougherty, Ellyn Ogden, Rena Dey, Denise Johnson, Julie Jenks, Sunita Durrani, Roma Solomon, Monica Chellaramani, and Tanushri Mitra. (Donor: Anne-Renee Heningburg)

Page last reviewed: October 19, 2018
Content source: Global Health