WHO Renews Effort to Wipe Out Polio

New Infections Emerge in Previously Polio-Free Countries

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The End of Polio: A Global Effort to End a Disease, by Sebastiao  Salgado

The End of Polio: A Global Effort to End a Disease, by Sebastiao Salgado Bulfinch Press hide caption

itoggle caption Bulfinch Press

The World Health Organization hopes to eradicate polio worldwide by next year, using the oral polio vaccine. But last year, health officials started to see a dangerous trend: The disease spread from Nigeria to six other West African countries where polio had been eradicated.

The global campaign to wipe out the virus has largely been successful. Before the initiative started in 1988, polio paralyzed some 350,000 children every year in 125 countries. By 2003, there were only 667 cases, with the vast majority in Nigeria, India and Pakistan.

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NPR's Melissa Block, host of All Things Considered, talks with Bruce Aylward, coordinator of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with the World Health Organization, about the biggest threat to the effort.



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