Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Topics / Polio

Worldwide efforts in the last two decades have reduced the number of polio cases by 99 percent. Until we reach eradication, however, we are working with governments and all partners in the polio effort to ensure no child is at risk of either contracting or transmitting this crippling disease.

Learn more below and visit the program page for more details about our work in this area.

Q&A with Ramesh Ferris: Polio-Free Certification of World Health Organization’s South-East Asia Region

Today the South-East Asia Region of the World Health Organization (WHO) was officially certified polio-free, the fourth of six WHO regions to receive the designation. With this milestone, 80% of the world’s population now lives in certified polio-free regions.

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Polio-Free South-East Asia Region: A Triumph That Transcends All Boundaries

In 2006, I was working for WHO’s National Polio Surveillance Project in India where I was responsible for surveillance and immunization activities to facilitate polio eradication. On my way back to my office one day after examining a child suspected to have polio, I took the above photo as we were driving past the international border between India and Bangladesh. 2006 was the year when Bangladesh reported 18 cases of polio after not having a case since 2000. The outbreak came from across the border in India, which, had nearly 670 cases that year. This image of the setting sun that evening reminded me of the reality of infectious diseases and vulnerabilities of us, the people, and the countries. The sun setting on the Bangladesh sky had its reflection across the man-made barbed wire border, onto the Indian waters. The parallel was too evident to be missed: as long as polio remained on one side of the border, it could cross over and infect children on the other side.

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Effort to Achieve a Polio-Free World Gets a Shot in the Arm

The fight to eradicate polio symbolizes what global health is all about. To wipe the virus off the face of the earth, we have to reach virtually every single child with the polio vaccine. No matter who they are. No matter where they live. However, not every child is lucky enough to be born in a country that is able to afford all the lifesaving vaccines. For example, until three years ago, children living in the poorest countries were not immunized against rotavirus and pneumonia, the two leading killers of children under five. This changed when an organization called the GAVI Alliance helped negotiate lower prices for these vaccines and started working with poor countries to introduce them into their routine immunization systems.

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Contagious Content: The Role of Social Media in Global Health

As gratifying as the origins of this post’s spread may be, the unusual success of this map begs an important question about the important potential of using social media for communicating challenging global health issues like immunisation. Are we making the most of its responsive potential and huge reach?

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Gates Foundation Reflections on a Polio-Free India

January 13, 2014 marked three years without a single case of wildpolio in India. This is a monumental achievement for India and for all of global health that shows us what is possible. Earlier this week Bill Gates explained the significance of this milestone on Impatient Optimists. At the foundation, several members of our program team came to us directly from supporting the program in India. We wanted to hear their reflections on this milestone -- below is what they had to say.

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