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The World in Medicine
May 9, 2001

Closing In on Polio

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JAMA. 2001;285(18):2319. doi:10.1001/jama.285.18.2319-JWM10004-3-1

A global effort to eradicate poliomyelitis by 2005 is 99% complete, according to new figures released by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Fewer than 3500 cases were reported in 2000, down from the estimated 350 000 annual cases in 1988, when the program began.

Polio is now found in no more than 20 countries, mainly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, down from 30 countries in 1999 and 125 in 1988.

However, groups involved in the project—the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)—warned that eradication of the final 1% of polio cases faces several challenges. These include a need for additional funding as well as the difficulties of maintaining political commitment to battle a disappearing disease.