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From the Surgeon General
January 20, 1999

Polio Eradication by the Year 2000

JAMA. 1999;281(3):221. doi:10.1001/jama.281.3.221

The clock is running out on poliomyelitis. The international campaign to eradicate polio by the year 2000 is entering its final phase. American medicine and public health can play an important role in achieving this global objective: to rid the planet of a historic scourge.

The success of the campaign during the past decade has diminished our awareness of this age-old plague. Few US physicians have managed a case of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) on an iron lung. The last case of naturally occurring polio in the United States (excluding cases introduced from abroad) occurred in 1979. The Western Hemisphere was certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as polio free in 1994, and no case of polio has been reported in this region since 1991. In the WHO's Western Pacific Region, which includes China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and 33 other countries, no cases have been reported for nearly 2 years, and certification of polio eradication is expected by the year 2000.