A GP guide to the challenges of polio eradication

Is the end of polio in sight? Despite a decades-long international effort, several challenges stand in the way of achieving global eradication of the poliovirus

Need to know:

  • An international effort to eradicate the polio virus has now been underway for two decades, involving a massive push to vaccinate children worldwide.
  • There has been a 99.9% reduction worldwide in polio cases since 1988, with many regions, including the Western Pacific, declared polio free. However, imported cases can still occur in these regions.
  • There are still significant challenges to eradication, including the fact that the virus is often asymptomatic, the existence of three serotypes of polio virus and outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV).
  • At the end of 2019, the WHO warned that progress made in recent years to eradicate wild polio virus appeared to have been reversed, and the risk of the international spread of the virus was at the highest point since 2014.
  • All Australian travellers to polio-endemic and polio-infected countries should have had a primary course of vaccination.