Updates on CDC’s Polio Eradication Efforts

March 18, 2016

CDC Continues to Support the Global Polio Eradication Effort

The eradication of polio is an important priority for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We are closer than we have ever been to eradicating polio and it is critical that we take advantage of this opportunity.

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

CDC’s Involvement

In the final push toward global polio eradication, CDC continues its close collaboration with partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Rotary International, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to ensure a coordinated global and country-level response.

CDC polio eradication activities and staff have moved into the EOC operational structure to ensure maximum use of CDC resources to support polio eradication, and to scale up timely technical expertise and support for polio-infected countries and for countries at risk of polio outbreaks, in coordination with GPEI partners.

Since December 2, 2011, approximately 572 workers have supported CDC’s polio eradication efforts in the EOC and in the field. Of these, 195 workers have completed 1,159 field deployments worldwide

Activation of the EOC has provided enhanced capacity for CDC’s STOP Transmission of Polio (STOP) program, which trains public health volunteers in the United States and globally to improve polio surveillance and help plan, implement, and evaluate vaccination campaigns. Since December 2, 2011, 742 individuals have been deployed on 1,748 assignments to work with the STOP program in 59 countries, including Chad, Haiti, and Kenya.

In addition, the EOC has provided enhanced capacity to scale up in-country technical expertise and support for – polio surveillance, planning, implementation, and monitoring of polio vaccination campaigns – strengthening routine immunization, strengthening management and accountability.

A few additional examples of CDC polio eradication activities include:

  • An in-depth review of priority countries’ polio eradication plans to assess program gaps and training needs, and elaboration of plans for CDC’s engagement in those countries.
  • Publication of several joint World Health Organization Weekly Epidemiologic Record/CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR) highlighting polio eradication progress related to Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, risk assessment for polio outbreaks, possible eradication of wild poliovirus type 3, polio-free certification in SEARO, and progress towards worldwide eradication.
  • Collaboration with GPEI partners on detailed country-plans for expanded technical and management support, including assistance with outbreak responses, surveillance reviews, vaccination campaign planning and monitoring, and data management.
  • The development of indicators for monitoring polio vaccination campaign performance in the areas of planning, implementation, and evaluation
  • Review of WHO proposed outbreak response protocols for all polio-affected and at risk countries.

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.  In 2018, 29 wild polio virus cases were reported- 8 in Pakistan, 21 in Afghanistan, and 0 in Nigeria. On May 5, 2014, after receiving advice from an Emergency Committee of independent experts and in order to protect progress toward eradication, former WHO Director-General Margaret Chan declared the international spread of wild poliovirus a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC) and issued Temporary Recommendations under the International Health Regulations (2005) to prevent further spread of the disease. In 2018, the PHEIC remains in place under the current WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus.

It is therefore imperative that we make this final push toward eradication one of our highest priorities. As former CDC Director 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,  a resurgence of polio could paralyze more than 200,000 children worldwide every year within a decade.” Now is the time, we must not fail.

Page last reviewed: February 29, 2016 (archived document)
Content source: Global Health