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AdvocacyAugust 15, 2016

The Time to Act on Polio is Now

A health worker administers the polio vaccine during Family Health Day; a campaign supported by UNICEF, in Nabingoola, Uganda, Friday, Oct. 26, 2012. (Stuart Ramson/Insider Images for UN Foundation)

A health worker administers the polio vaccine in Nabingoola, Uganda. (Stuart Ramson/Insider Images for UN Foundation)

On August 11, the Nigerian government announced that two cases of polio had been reported in the country, resulting in the paralysis of two children. The grave news took the world by surprise on the day that would have marked what would have marked two years since the last reported case of polio in Nigeria.

In response, the Nigerian Government, alongside Shot@Life’s implementing partners, the World Health Organization and partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, are implementing large-scale, emergency immunization campaigns and strengthening surveillance systems to help prevent the spread of the disease. This response is part of a larger regional outbreak response being planned, including in neighboring areas of Chad, northern Cameroon, southern Niger and CAR.

While this outbreak is a setback, it does not change the fact that remarkable progress has been made against the virus in Nigeria and globally. According to the WHO, only 21 cases of polio have been reported so far in 2016, compared to 34 cases at this time last year. Apart from Nigeria, polio only remains endemic in two other countries: Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is a far cry from the 350,000 cases of polio reported in 125 countries worldwide in 1988. By vaccinating every last child and continuing to monitor the diseases globally, even in countries that have not reported recent cases, we can ensure that there is no possibility for the virus to remain.

The news of the recent polio outbreak serves as an important reminder that until every last child is vaccinated against polio, the disease will continue to pose a threat to the world. Now more than ever, we need to act.

From August 27-October 24, Shot@Life is challenging our Champions, partners and supporters to participate in Race to Erase, a 5K Run or Walk (or any other activity) to be completed as we prepare to commemorate World Polio Day on October 24. Along the way, we’ll help supporters fundraise and advocate to their members of Congress so we can reach the finish line and end polio for good.

Throughout the race we’ll challenge participants with weekly fundraising or advocacy actions as we count down to World Polio Day. There’s an opportunity for engagement for every type of supporter of Shot@Life – I’ll be racing too!  We’ll be recognizing our top fundraising teams and individuals, as well as our top advocates on our Race to Erase page and on the Shot@Life Champion Community.

For more information regarding the recent polio outbreak in Nigeria, visit

Devi R. Thomas