The Failure of Polio Eradication: Blame Geopolitics, Not Religion

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Last May, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in response to the increasing number of worldwide poliomyelitis cases. The timing of the announcement was especially disconcerting; less than two months before, the WHO had declared India to be polio-free. Additionally, an all-time low of 219 polio cases worldwide had been recorded in 2012, when the wild polio virus remained endemic only to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. Beating the disease in a country as large, diverse, and complex as India had offered real hope that the endgame of worldwide Polio eradication was in sight. The PHIEC therefore carried a dark undertone: despite the combined efforts of the WHO, Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and national governments worldwide (operating collectively as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative), had the chance to globally eradicate polio slipped away?
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeorgetown Journal of International Affairs
Issue numberApril
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2015


  • Polio
  • Geopolitics
  • Global Health

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