Polio Is on Verge of Extinction

AUGUST 01, 2005

Rotary International's 20-year campaign to eliminate polio worldwide may be near its end. So far, in 2005 only slightly >500 cases have been reported, compared with 350,000 cases in 1988. With >$600 million raised, vaccination campaigns are proving successful, according to Hamid Jafari, MD, director of the Global Immunization Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During a meeting of the 100th anniversary of the Rotary organization, he reported that Asian countries are on schedule for ending transmission of the disease this year. Africa is also turning a corner after a series of immunization campaigns in 23 countries in the fall of 2004 and the spring of 2005.

There are countries that are still a concern, however. Lee Jong-wook, MD, director general of the World Health Organization, said cases imported from Nigeria, which stopped vaccinations for about a year, "remind us that we must continue to protect the children" and get the support of governments to endorse antipolio efforts. Dr. Lee said an additional $50 million is needed to fund campaigns through 2005, and $200 million is needed for 2006.