World Polio Day, established by Rotary International over a decade ago, is held on October 24th in celebration of the birth of Dr. Jonas Salk, the man who led the first team to develop a vaccine against polio. The development of the polio vaccine reduced polio worldwide by 99% with only Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan as the remaining polio endemic countries in 2012.

Since 1988, CDC has been a spearheading partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) along with the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, and UNICEF with substantial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other partner organizations. CDC supports the GPEI objectives by providing scientific expertise in the implementation of polio eradication activities and programs, and in operational research.

World Polio Day, End Polio Now


CDC also serves as one of the global reference laboratories and provides genetic sequencing of the poliovirus that can be used to evaluate the quality of surveillance systems. CDC works with USAID to enhance polio activities in several areas. In addition, since 1999, CDC has had a longstanding partnership with WHO to support the Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) Program, which has trained over 1,800 volunteers from around the world who have been deployed to 62 countries to strengthen polio vaccination programs.

While tremendous progress has been made since 1988, pockets of wild poliovirus remain, leaving unvaccinated children at risk of lifelong, irreversible paralysis. In light of continued polio outbreaks and funding shortages, the 65th World Health Assembly declared the completion of polio eradication a global public health programmatic emergency in May 2012, resulting in a global intensification of polio vaccination activities.

The eradication of polio is an important priority for CDC. As of now, the world is not on track to eradicate polio by the end of 2012. Yet, 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 to strengthen the agency’s partnership engagement through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which is committed to completing the eradication of polio. Additional information about CDC’s polio eradication activities is available at