Data InsightsThe global eradication of polio is within reach
May 01, 2024Fiona Spooner

The global eradication of polio is within reach

The image is a line graph titled "Reported cases of paralytic polio." It shows the annual reported cases of paralytic polio, including both cases from wild polioviruses and vaccine-derived polioviruses from 1980 to 2023. The line starts near 60,000 cases in 1980, sharply decreases to below 20,000 by the mid-1980s, and continues to decline steadily to just a few hundred cases by 2023. The x-axis represents the years, and the y-axis represents the number of cases. There are horizontal grid lines aiding in the reading of case numbers. At the bottom, the data source is credited to the World Health Organization (2019) and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (2024). On the right side of the image is a logo with the text "Our World in Data." The website "" is listed along with a CC BY license notification.

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that largely affects children, causing paralysis and permanent disability; it can also lead to death.

In the early 1980s, over 50,000 cases were reported annually. This only includes cases that have been diagnosed and reported to health authorities. The true number of total cases was likely higher than 300,000 in the worst years.

The number of reported cases has been dramatically reduced in recent years. We have just updated the data shown in the chart. Last year, there were 536 paralytic polio cases worldwide.

Much of this reduction has come from global efforts toward better vaccination and improved screening and testing, primarily coordinated by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), founded in 1988.

Global polio eradication is possible through high vaccination rates, thorough screening and testing to detect cases, and rapid, high-quality immunization campaigns to limit outbreaks.

Read more on how our generation can eradicate polio globally