The Last Percent

YouTube / Gates Foundation
YouTube / Gates Foundation / YouTube / Gates Foundation

Last year, there were 223 reported cases of polio worldwide. That's down from over 300,000 cases a year in the late 1980s, and it means we're more than 99% of the way to eradicating polio from the face of the Earth. It has taken decades of concerted effort by countries and organizations to get here, but we're not finished yet—that last one percent means everything. Have a look at this inspirational video showing other efforts we've undertaken around the world, and consider this question: Would you stop at 99%?

Today, there are only three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan where polio has never been stopped. Until polio is stopped in these countries we risk outbreaks like the ones we are seeing in the Horn of Africa now. You can actually keep track of polio cases on the Polio This Week page, a service of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

The big news is India's immense program to eliminate polio. If no new cases are reported through January 2014, India will have gone three years without a polio case and will be declared polio-free. The effort it took to eliminate polio in India is insanely huge—in 1997, India vaccinated 134 million children in a single day. The vaccine is just a few drops of liquid taken by mouth (no shots!), and polio is a disease that cannot live outside the human body—we can eradicate it.

In the coming months, we'll write more about polio. We can save future generations of children from paralysis and death. The goal is within sight: learn more and take action.