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Helping the Heroines of Polio Eradication

With just 37 reported cases last year, the world is on the verge of wiping out polio for good, just the second disease, after smallpox, to be fully eradicated by vaccines. But getting to zero will require more than money; it will demand better protections and pay for the women on the front lines of the vaccination efforts.

NEW YORK – Last month, world governments and other donors pledged $1.2 billion to help carry the 30-year fight to eradicate polio over the finish line. At its height, the polio epidemic caused 350,000 cases of paralysis in children every year. Last year, only 37 cases were reported. So far this year, the number stands at six.

But as momentous as these gains are, victory over polio is not yet assured. And one factor – the role of female vaccinators – will be a critical determinant of success.