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World Polio Day

  • 25 Oct 2019
  • 3 min read

World Polio Day was established by Rotary International on 24th October to celebrate the birth of Jonas Salk, who developed a vaccine against poliomyelitis.

  • The establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988 reduced polio worldwide by 99%.
  • World Polio Day (2019) marked a milestone in polio eradication as the independent Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (GCC) has declared Wild Polio Virus type 3 to be globally eradicated.
    • It follows the eradication of smallpox and wild poliovirus type 2.

Wild Polio Virus type 3

  • There are three individual and immunologically distinct wild poliovirus strains: Wild Polio Virus type 1 (WPV1), Wild Polio Virus type 2 (WPV2) and Wild Polio Virus type 3 (WPV3).
  • Symptomatically, all three strains are identical, in that they cause irreversible paralysis or even death.
  • But there are genetic and virological differences, which make these three strains three separate viruses that must each be eradicated individually.
  • WPV2 and WPV3 have been eradicated globally but WPV1 remains in circulation in just two countries namely, Afghanistan and Pakistan.


  • Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal viral infectious disease.
  • There is no cure, but can be prevented through immunization.
  • The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunizing every child until transmission stops.
  • There are two types of vaccines to prevent infection.
    • OPV (Oral Polio Vaccine): It is given orally as a birth dose for institutional deliveries, then primary three doses at 6, 10 & 14 weeks and one booster dose at 16-24 months of age.
    • Injectable Polio Vaccine (IPV): It is introduced as an additional dose along with the 3rd dose of DPT under the universal immunization programme (UIP).
  • India received polio-free certification by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2014.
    • Eradication of a disease refers to the complete and permanent worldwide reduction to zero new cases of an infectious disease through deliberate efforts. If a disease has been eradicated, no further control measures are required. For eg- smallpox has been eradicated.
    • However, elimination of a disease refers to reduction to zero (or a very low defined target rate) of new cases of an infectious disease in a defined geographical area. Elimination requires continued measures to prevent re-establishment of disease transmission. Yaws and Leprosy have been eliminated from India.

Source: TH

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