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close this bookPolio - The Beginning of the End (WHO, 1997, 113 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentPreface
View the documentIntroduction: Making history
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 1: Preventing polio
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 2: Polio eradication
View the documentChapter 3: Certification
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 4: A gift from the 20th to the 21st century
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 5: First victories
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 6: A failure to immunize
View the documentChapter 7: A ceasefire for children
View the documentChapter 8: The Rotary crusade
View the documentChapter 9: Benefits of polio eradication
View the documentAnnex: Statistics


by Dr Hiroshi Nakajima, Director-General of the World Health Organization

Dr Hiroshi Nakajima Director-General of WHO

In 1988 the World Health Assembly adopted the resolution calling for the global eradication of poliomyelitis by the year 2000. During the last nine years the eradication initiative has expanded from one of WHO’s Regions to all six of them. It has become one of the primary goals of WHO and each of its Member States. We are proud of this initiative, which has mobilized and united so many people around the world in a common cause.

Polio eradication has been achieved and certified in WHO’s Region of the Americas. In the European and Western Pacific Regions, the incidence of wild poliovirus infection has been reduced to extremely low levels. We hope that both Regions will be able to bring transmission to a halt during the next year, and we challenge all the countries of these Regions to continue to strengthen their surveillance systems so that eradication can be certified by the year 2000. In the Regions of Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia the fight against polio is being fought with energy and determination, but significant obstacles remain to be overcome. The goal of global eradication is of the utmost concern to all countries because until every country in the world is free from polio, no country is free from the risk of it.

I want to thank all our partners in this initiative for their steadfast and invaluable support. Rotary International, UNICEF and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have worked tirelessly with us and made an enormous contribution to the campaign. The Governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States have been particularly generous in their support, and contributions have been received from many other sources. Most of all, I want to thank the countless health workers and others in communities and governments around the world who have participated and continue to participate in the day-to-day work of polio eradication. While others plan and provide support, it is they who turn those plans into reality. Without their continued dedication we could not have come so far, and we could not hope to sustain the progress we have so far achieved.

Dr Hiroshi Nakajima
Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO)

Oral polio vaccine is recommended by WHO for use in global efforts to eradicate polio.

Photo: UNICEF/Adrian Pennink (93-BOU1104)