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Polio Eradication

UNICEF's Work: Polio

UNICEF and Its Partners Can Eradicate Polio

Since the inception of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, the number of annual polio cases has dropped dramatically—from 350,000 to 223 cases in 2012. That's nearly a 100% reduction. In March 2014, the World Health Organization certified India as polio-free — one of history's great public health achievements.

View this interactive on India's journey to polio eradication:

Much work remains to ensure that this progress is permanent. Polio is a crippling and sometimes fatal illness that strikes children, particularly those under the age of 5. There is no cure, but there is a safe and effective vaccine. Childhood immunization is the key to eradication.

Polio is still active in: 

  • 3 endemic countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
  • 15 other re-infected countries.
  • Syria, where 10 cases have been confirmed in 2013, the first in 14 years.
  • war-torn Somalia, where 66 cases have been reported in 2013, the country's first polio cases since 2007.
  • Somalia's neighbors, Kenya and Ethiopia. In total, more than 140 cases have been confirmed in these three countries. 

But everywhere polio remains a threat, UNICEF and its partners offer hope: a Tajikistan outbreak was met with a massive cross-border response with almost 10.3 million doses of oral polio vaccine procured and distributed. In Africa, an ongoing campaign spans 15 countries to reach 72 million children. In Syria and neighboring countries, UNICEF has been supporting emergency campaigns to immunize children across the region.

In 2012, UNICEF Supply Division purchased 1 billion doses of Oral Polio Vaccine. 

Will you help us achieve a day when ZERO children suffer from polio? Donate today to support UNICEF's efforts to eradicate polio.

Recent News on UNICEF's Fight Against Polio

October 24, 2013

On the Front Lines of Polio Eradication in Afghanistan

Eradicating polio in Afghanistan – one of only three countries where the disease remains endemic – is a battle taking place every day across the country. Against the larger backdrop of instability and suffering that continues to draw the world’s focus, it is also largely invisible. But amid this scenario are those who fight social and cultural odds and work long hours trying to make the difference in a struggle between life and death. UNICEF met with a few of these heroes to talk about the work they do.

October 24, 2012

Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake on World Polio Day

World Polio Day is a stirring reminder of all that we have achieved together in the fight against polio. There is much to celebrate. Fewer children than ever before suffer the debilitating effects of this cruel disease. For the first time in its history, this year, India was declared polio free. We can see before us the finish line: the eradication of polio. But World Polio Day is also a sobering reminder that, as in many long distance races, the last mile is the hardest one.

August 14, 2012

Angola turns the tide against polio

Angola is celebrating one year free of polio. This is a major milestone for a country which has suffered repeated re-importations since 2005.


stopping polio slideshow thumb

Slideshow of joint campaign to stop polio in Tajikistan.


$25 can provide enough vaccine to immunize 42 children against polio.

$65 can provide 4 cold-box Vaccine Carriers for the transportation of vaccines to remote locations.

$4,000 can provide a Solar Refrigerator, used for the storage of vaccines in areas with non-existent or unreliable electrical energy.

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