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Our Global Voices Posts

CDC Continues the Fight Against Polio

Posted on by Rebecca Martin, PhD, Director, Center for Global Health

Photo of a child receiving the oral polio vaccine

In 1988, when CDC joined three other partners to launch the ambitious Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the world was a much different and, measured by polio’s reach, dangerous place.

Rebecca Martin, PhD, Director, CDC Center for Global Health
Rebecca Martin, PhD, Director, CDC Center for Global Health

Back then, polio existed in more than 125 countries and it paralyzed 350,000 children that year. Thanks to GPEI and the tireless work of its current partners – the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and CDC – by 2005 polio was eliminated in all but four countries– Pakistan, Nigeria, India, and Afghanistan. In 2011, India conquered poliovirus, leaving only three endemic countries.

As the scope and dynamics of the disease changed, so did GPEI. GPEI expanded its focus, targeting the part that global travel played in reintroducing polio to areas that has previously been deemed free of the disease. Acknowledging progress but admitting the polio’s stubborn resistance, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared polio a public health emergency of international concern to bring additional resources and attention to bear. In its October 2011 report, the Independent Monitoring Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative said that “The GPEI is not on track to interrupt polio transmission by the end of 2012 as it planned to.” Thus the result was that, five years ago today, the Director of CDC activated CDC’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to bring an all of CDC effort working to eradicate polio.

The activation of CDC’s EOC accelerated polio eradication efforts of the Agency. Since the EOC activation, CDC staff deployed have played essential roles in eliminating outbreaks that occurred in Somalia, Syria and Iraq, and continue to play key roles in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The EOC is the cornerstone of emergency preparedness and disease response. It’s the nerve center where experts monitor, prepare, and gather and exchange information and make decisions quickly. Shortly thereafter, WHO activated its EOC in Geneva and GPEI, working with governments decided to develop EOCs in each of the remaining endemic countries. Nigeria quickly established a national polio EOC and subsequently state level EOCs in states with elevated polio risk. The EOC model enabled Nigerian officials to create a place where their leaders could meet regularly, develop and execute eradication strategies, improve vaccination campaigns, and respond rapidly to outbreaks. To better support the response in Nigeria, CDC created the National Stop Transmission of Polio Program, which continues to serve as CDC’s operational arm in country and is an active part of the EOC polio response in country. The EOC in Nigeria was key in stopping the Ebola outbreak within 8 weeks in 2014.

In Pakistan, GPEI partners and local officials established EOCs at the national level and in each of the geographic areas where endemic circulation remains. During this period, CDC expanded the National Stop Transmission of Polio Program to provide support to the EOCs and to districts at high-risk of virus circulation throughout the country.  Afghanistan, working with stakeholders, developed national and provincial levels EOCs too.

As progress continues to be made, it is important to acknowledge the work that remains. Interrupting poliovirus transmission in the remaining three endemic countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan), achieving quality surveillance necessary to document the absence of poliovirus, and continuing to innovate in ways that increase access to previously missed children are among the highest priorities in 2017. From 650 cases worldwide in 2011 to fewer than 40 cases in three countries to date in 2016, CDC and its partners have made significant global progress toward polio eradication. Unquestionably, the efforts of CDC responders and the EOC contributed greatly to the success of our polio eradication efforts and will contribute greatly to the final efforts to eradicate polio once and for all.

Posted on by Rebecca Martin, PhD, Director, Center for Global HealthLeave a comment

Innovation to Drive Impact: Reaching the Hardest to Reach

A version of this blog also appeared on As we mark World AIDS Day, we reflect on how far we’ve come and acknowledge the profound challenges that still remain. The scientific progress we’ve made since the first cases of AIDS that appeared more than 35 years ago has been nothing short of remarkable. The Read More >

Posted on by Shannon Hader, MD, MPH, Director of CDC’s Division of Global HIV & TBLeave a commentTags

World AIDS Day 2016 Leadership Statement

  Below is a quote by Shannon Hader, MD, MPH, Director of CDC’s Division of Global HIV & TB: “On this World AIDS Day, we reflect upon the all too many lives—nearly 35 million–that have been lost since the first days of the epidemic, celebrate the leadership that has driven a major expansion of quality Read More >

Posted on by Shannon Hader, MD, MPH, Director of CDC’s Division of Global HIV & TBLeave a commentTags ,

INSPIRED to End Violence Against Women and Children

November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls. More than 1 billion children—half of all the children in the world—are victims of violence every year. And in many countries, one in four girls experience sexual violence before the age of eighteen. Every child has the right to grow Read More >

Posted on by Dr. Deb Houry, Director, National Center for Injury Prevention and ControlLeave a commentTags , , , , , ,

Choose the Road to Zero Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths

  The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims takes place every third Sunday in November. It serves as a way to: Remember the millions of people killed and injured in road crashes as well as their families, friends and those affected; Pay tribute to the dedicated emergency responders, police and medical professionals who deal Read More >

Posted on by Erin K. Sauber-Schatz, PhD, MPHLeave a comment

Everyone Needs Somewhere to Go: World Toilet Day 2016

We use toilets every day – at home, school, and work – yet 40% of the world’s population does not have this luxury.  Clean and safe toilets are more than just a place to use the restroom.  They are essential for health, human dignity, and improved education.   Sadly, 2.4 billion people are still using inadequate Read More >

Posted on by Madison Walter, CDC Global Health Student InternLeave a comment

Measles: A Forgotten, but Formidable Foe

Since its inception, the CDC has played a major role in advancing the health security in dozens of countries by improving response times to the outbreaks of several vaccine-preventable diseases. Furthermore, its partnerships with other countries and philanthropic organizations have not only stopped outbreaks, but also improved disease surveillance, laboratory science, emergency operations, and health Read More >

Posted on by James L. Goodson, MPH, Senior Measles Scientist at CDCLeave a comment

President Obama Cements Global Health Security Agenda as a National Priority


In the swirl of world events that range from economic uncertainty to continuing unease about terrorism, President Obama took an important step today to strengthen our ability to protect people in the United States and around the world from disease outbreaks. Today, President Obama signed an Executive Order that cements the Global Health Security Agenda Read More >

Posted on by Dr. Tom Frieden, Director, Centers for Disease Control and PreventionLeave a commentTags , , ,

‘One Health’ – A Comprehensive Approach To Preventing Disease, Saving Lives

For as long as people have lived with – and in close proximity to – animals, the benefit of that reality has come with a serious trade-off… the potential for disease. That reality also explains why a “One Health” approach is used at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify and minimize the Read More >

Posted on by Casey Barton Behravesh MS, DVM, DrPH, DACVPMLeave a comment

CDC Spotlights Stroke Prevention for World Stroke Day

The number of people affected by stroke worldwide has gone up significantly in the past 20 years. The number continues to increase in part due to an aging population. Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide and the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Stroke kills more than 130,000 Americans Read More >

Posted on by Mary G. George, MD, MSPH, FACS and Jennifer L. Foltz, MD, MPHLeave a commentTags , ,