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Polio's Defeat and Its Global Meaning

A recent ceremony in Copenhagen marked a singular achievement in global public health, an achievement, which confirms that development aid works, and that it works best in partnership. An independent commission certified the 51 countries of the World Health Organization European Region free of polio.

Adding the Europe Region to the Americas, China and the Pacific Rim, means more than half the world's countries - comprising over three billion people - are now officially free of this crippling disease. The will to free the world of polio was underscored at the G8 summit in Canada, where G8 leaders pledged to help finish the job and rid Africa of the disease.

The success to date of the polio eradication program - clearing a huge swathe of the earth of an ancient scourge - demonstrates what can be achieved when simple technology is used effectively. A closely coordinated effort amongst private and public sector partners to deliver oral polio vaccine to every child under five was the key to success.

Globally, international donors and UN agencies worked closely with national governments, tallying the exact needs for massive polio immunization campaigns aimed at reaching hundreds of millions of children. Last year alone, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative delivered almost two billion doses of polio vaccine to 575 million children in 94 countries.