Who We Are

Updated October 19, 2022

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About Us

Feature Story

Going the Last Mile to Reach Every Child

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CDC is a technical agency that works alongside partners to provide support for the global polio eradication effort. CDC has expertise in number of technical areas including communicable disease surveillance, data management and analysis, laboratory diagnostics and virus genetics, outbreak response and program development, routine immunization, workforce development, and research and innovation.

CDC provides support to Ministries of Health and partners across the globe through direct, on-the-ground technical assistance both through short-term deployments and long-term placement in countries. CDC collaborates closely with partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) on strategic planning and vision setting as well as implementation and monitoring of activities in the fight against polio.

CDC receives direct, annual appropriations from Congress to eradicate polio helping to protect the American people from health threats and ensure a world where people live healthier, safer, and longer lives.

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How We work

CDC is a strategic partner in the overall effort to eradicate polio worldwide. The agency provides scientific expertise to many polio eradication programs and activities:

  • Global Immunization Division (GID) staff members work jointly with WHO and national Ministries of Health to plan and monitor polio surveillance and immunization activities in multiple countries worldwide.
  • GID also conducts scientific studies that support polio eradication, including conducting epidemiologic and vaccine efficacy studies and performing operational research for supplemental immunization activities.
  • The Polio and Picornavirus Laboratory in CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases serves as a WHO Global Specialized Laboratory and provides technical and programmatic assistance to the global polio laboratory network overall. CDC’s labs provide critical diagnostic services and genomic sequencing of polioviruses to help guide disease control efforts in many countries. In 2018, this included support for implementation of improved laboratory procedures that have increased sensitivity to detect and confirm new polio infection. Other new laboratory procedures are helping countries overcome specific operational challenges, enable more rapid detection of poliovirus, and allow for faster response to importations or spread of virus. Additional efforts include technical assistance to laboratories implementing environmental surveillance for polio detection.
  • Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) team members currently participate in 11 month assignments in 42 countries, providing support at the national and sub-national levels. In 2022, the STOP program in collaboration with WHO and UNICEF has deployed 140 public health professionals to improve surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP, an early sign of possible polio), support planning and implementing polio SIAs, responding to polio outbreaks, and enhancing polio surveillance.
  • Country support through deployment of personnel and other resources

Where We work

CDC works worldwide to achieve polio eradication and ensure no child is paralyzed by polio ever again. Two remaining countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, have never stopped transmission of endemic wild poliovirus. CDC works with partners and the countries to deliver vaccination services, to carry out sensitive disease surveillance and ensure immunization of migrating populations across common borders.

CDC along with partners support countries that experience or are vulnerable to outbreaks of vaccine-derived polio viruses (VDPVs), which are rare and only occur when polio vaccination rates are low. Currently, type 2 circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV2) outbreaks are occurring more often than other types due to the global cessation of type 2 oral poliovirus vaccine in 2016. Although all countries now include the addition of a single dose of inactivated poliovirus vaccine to protect against paralysis, cVDPV2 outbreaks have spread because outbreak responses have been delayed and are reaching lower coverage of targeted children than needed; this is particularly true since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) believes through partnership more can be accomplished. In 1988, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution for the worldwide eradication of polio. It marked the launch of the GPEI, spearheaded by national governments, CDC, Rotary International, WHO, and UNICEF. Sincs 2009, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been a member of the GPEI partnership. For the last few years, Gavi, the vaccine alliance, has been a part of GPEI.
  • CDC provides technical assistance for polio outbreak response, surveillance reviews, strategy refinement through innovative research, and vaccination campaign planning, monitoring, and evaluation. CDC also provides virological surveillance expertise (genetic fingerprinting) to investigate polio cases, identify the strain of poliovirus involved, and pinpoint genetic and transmission linkages.
  • In 1985Rotary International launched PolioPlus—the first initiative to tackle global polio eradication through the mass vaccination of children. Rotary has helped to immunize nearly 3 billion children in 122 countries and contributed more than $2 billion toward the effort worldwide.
  • WHO, through its headquarters, regional, and country offices, helps coordinate the major strategic planning, management, and administrative processes. WHO collects, collates, and disseminates standardized information on strategy implementation and impact, particularly in the areas of surveillance and vaccination campaigns, coordination of research, building of capacity, and direct operational support to countries.
  • UNICEF leads communication and social mobilization responsibilities for the GPEI. Working with partners to build community and household demand for immunization, UNICEF focuses on reaching children who are most at risk of being missed with oral polio vaccine with the support of in-country social mobilizers.
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provides technical and financial resources to accelerate vaccination campaigns and social mobilization, improve surveillance and outbreak response, develop vaccines, and find innovative solutions to country and regional challenges.
  • Gavi is an international organization created in 2000 to improve access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries.