World Polio Day 2021

This Year's Theme: Delivering on a Promise

World Polio Day (October 24) provides an opportunity to highlight global efforts toward a polio-free world and honor the tireless contributions of those on the frontlines in the fight to eradicate polio from every corner of the globe. Through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), CDC works with partners to eradicate polio and end the suffering from this devastating disease.

Delivering on a Promise

In June of 2021, the GPEI launched the Polio Eradication Strategy 2022 – 2026external icon to deliver on a promise made 33 years ago at the 41st World Health Assembly. Since the declaration to eradicate polio was adopted in 1988pdf iconexternal icon, billions of children have received the gift of a polio-free life. The world has achieved a 99.9% reduction in wild poliovirus transmission and elimination in 5 of 6 WHO regions, yet persistent challenges remain to end all forms of polio.

The updated GPEI strategy outlines a coordinated approach to:

  • interrupt wild poliovirus type 1 transmission in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the remaining two endemic countries, and
  • stop outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPVs), which can occur in under- or unimmunized communities.

The 5-year strategy elevates efforts in the highest-risk countries and promotes health service integration, surveillance improvement, and community engagement to enhance campaign quality.

Frontline Workers Deliver Health Protection and Hope

During the COVID-19 pandemic, polio frontline workers continue to reach millions of children with vaccines to keep polio eradication on track, stop polio outbreaks and support national and community responses to other vaccine-preventable disease threats. These vaccinators deliver health protection and hope to children and families all over the world.

This World Polio Day, CDC recognizes the extraordinary commitment of the STOP Program, deploying a public health workforce that has been engaged in the global fight to eradicate polio for over 20 years.

STOP Program team members are also on the frontlines supporting national responses to other vaccine-preventable and emerging infectious diseases like measles, yellow fever, hepatitis B, cholera, Ebola and now COVID-19. CDC’s investments in recruiting, training, and deploying public health professionals, where and when they are needed most, help countries build stronger immunization systems to increase vaccine coverage and improve outbreak detection and response.

Vaccinated girl with purple finger

Delivering on a promise to eradicate polio will require equitable access to vaccines, no matter a child’s circumstances, to end all forms of polio.

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About Polio

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease caused by the poliovirus that invades the brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis. The virus spreads from person-to-person and only affects humans; children are especially susceptible. Because polio has no cure, vaccination is the only way to protect children and stop the disease from spreading.

Page last reviewed: October 18, 2021
Content source: Global Immunization