In 1957, during a time when polio epidemics ravaged countries worldwide and many considered polio to be the world's most feared disease, Albert B. Sabin began human trials to test his live oral polio vaccine. From 1952 to 1961, the number of polio cases in the United States fell from 58,000 to 161, due in large part to Sabin's vaccine.
Today marks another major milestone. India, one of only four remaining countries with endemic polio, has gone one full year without a single case of the disabling disease. Just three years ago, India had more cases of polio than any other country. Since then, 2 million volunteer vaccinators have worked throughout India to deliver more than 780 million polio vaccinations a year. The polio eradication effort is part of an effort led by the Indian government, with the help of global partners like WHO, UNICEF and Rotary International, to set up an infrastructure for delivering health services to some of the most underprivileged children in India and in the world.
"I'd like to praise the people in India for all their hard work and for demonstrating that polio really can be eradicated,"says Dr. Ciro de Quadros, Sabin executive vice president and champion of the polio eradication efforts in the Americas. "We should now apply lessons learned from India to fight back polio in more difficult countries like Nigeria and Pakistan. With the kind of commendable efforts shown in India, we can achieve global eradication of polio.”