At one time polio paralyzed hundreds of thousands of children every year.
In Africa alone, it afflicted 75,000 children annually.
Thats no longer the case.
We have just achieved a major milestone in global polio eradication,
with the certification of the African region as well polio virus free.
A vaccine ended polio in the developed world more than 50 years ago.
In 1988 the global polio eradication initiative decided to end polio in developing countries.
Its taken a lot of work: countless volunteers, global leadership, local leadership and the backing of many donors.
But now the wild polio virus exists only in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In both countries there has been a resurgence of the virus in recent years.
In Pakistan people displaced by violence and conflict,
have resettled in communities with poor health services and sanitation.
Polio virus is very unforgiving in these communities, you know.
Theyre densely settled theyre you know, poor sanitation and hygiene.
The conditions are very favorable for polio virus transmission to thrive, to be really entrenched there.
Jafari says the eradication program is now helping these communities,
meet more of their health needs like access to clean water.
In Afghanistan the Taliban doesnt allow mass inoculations or house-to-house immunizations.
If you dont do house-to-house campaigns,
can you perhaps carry out immunization campaigns in small immunization centers?
Many small immunization centers in a particular community,
so that families dont have to travel very far to have their children immunized,
so were trying to be creative,
and looking at ways to move our polio eradication efforts forward in those two remaining endemic countries.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic vaccinators in all countries wear masks and gloves.
Global polio eradication is close and the milestones are significant,
but unless the disease is wiped out in Afghanistan and Pakistan,it could once again circulate globally.
Carol Pearson VOA news Washington