Progress on eradicating polio has stalled

Dec 06, 2018

IN 1988 A world emboldened by the eradication of smallpox set its cross-hairs on polio. The aim was to enter the new millennium without this crippling virus. But the battle drags on. On November 30th an emergency committee on the global spread of polio, appointed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), delivered its latest verdict. Eliminating polio has become what Michel Zaffran, director of polio eradication at the WHO, calls a “dual emergency”.

The first is the stalled progress on wiping out wild polio viruses in their last two strongholds, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The world’s steady countdown to zero since 2012 has stopped, with cases this year already surpassing those in 2017 (see chart). As a consequence there are worries that polio may travel back to countries which have already eradicated it, like India.

The second emergency is the growing number of countries with cases of the disease that have...

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