Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

The Last Days of Polio

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

The Last Days of Polio

Article excerpt

In 2002, world-renowned Brazilian photographer, Sebastiao Salgado, joined the global effort to eradicate polio. These photographs, which are also published in his latest book, The End of Polio: A Global Effort to End a Disease, (1) provide a visual account of the final stages of the fifteen-year campaign which aims to stop transmission by 2004.

"As Sebastiao Salgado's luminous photographs attest, there are few more heartbreaking illustrations of the world's negligence towards children than polio," writes United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, in his foreword to the book which was launched in September 2003. Salgado's photographs depict the tragic toll taken by this preventable disease and moments in the campaign against it.

"The scale of it caught my attention," says Salgado. "Though I had frequently visited most of the countries where polio is still a problem, I had not noticed what a terrible impact this disease still has. I was also not aware of the gigantic effort being made to eradicate it: millions of people delivering drops of polio vaccine to tens of millions of children. It is an amazing story that I wanted to help tell."

In 1988, when the World Health Assembly resolved to eradicate polio and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched, there were more than125 polio-endemic countries. Now that figure has dropped to just six: Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Niger, Afghanistan, and Egypt. …

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