Can polio be eradicated from last strongholds in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Tracy Parish

08 July, 2016

Image: A young boy is being placed in an iron lung. (ULLSTEIN BILD/GETTY IMAGES) Courtesy of ABC Radio National.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the last frontiers in the 100-year war on polio. A century on since the first outbreak of the wild polio virus, it remains endemic in only these two countries.

Since 1988, when the World Health Organization made polio eradication a priority, rates of polio paralysis have dropped from 350,000 per year to less than two dozen cases so far in 2016.

Burnet’s Deputy Director and a member of the independent monitoring board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Professor Mike Toole AM is part of a special report by Erica Vowles aired on ABC Radio National’s Rear Vision program.

Click here to listen.

Professor Toole says polio eradication has been a two steps forward, one step back affair since 1988. But the tide seems to be turning.

‘We eradicated it from India, and a lot of people said that was going to be impossible,’ he said.

‘Two years ago polio was eradicated from Nigeria, despite the opposition to vaccination by the extremist Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria.’

Staff Member


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Professor Michael Toole AM

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