Although polio has been reduced to its lowest level in history, three countries still have polio transmission — Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Last year 223 polio cases were reported. So far in 2013 there have been 19 cases, according to the Global Vaccine Summit.
Bill Gates, chairman and co-founder of Microsoft Corp., is asking nations to donate to the $5.5 billion Polio Eradication & Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-18 to globally eradicate the disease in the next six years. He is contributing $1.8 billion through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Poliovirus can spread as a result of poor sanitation and hygiene. Millions of people were paralyzed by polio before vaccines became widely available in the 1950s. Routine immunization and sanitation improvements have helped eradicate the disease from most countries.
Organizations have been working for many years to defeat polio. This is a very worthy goal. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a public-private partnership led by national governments and spearheaded by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United Nations Children's Fund.
Challenges remain to eliminating polio, but some day in the near future polio, like smallpox, will be wiped from the earth. That will be a cause for celebration.