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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Global Public Health, Volume 10, Issue 4, April 2015, Pages 463-473.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1080/17441692.2014.994655. Copyright © Taylor & Francis


In 1988, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched with the goal of eradicating polio by the year 2000. After 25 years, several dynamics still challenge this large public health campaign with new cases of polio being reported annually. We examine the roots of this initiative to eradicate polio, its scope, the successes and setbacks during the last 25 years and reflect on the current state of affairs. We examine the social and political factors that are barriers to polio eradication. Options are discussed for solving the current impasse of polio eradication: using force, respecting individual freedoms and gaining support from those vulnerable to fundamentalist 'propaganda'. The travails of the GPEI indicate the need for expanding the Convention on the Rights of the Child to address situations of war and civic strife. Such a cultural and structural reference will provide the basis for global stakeholders to engage belligerent local actors whose local political conflicts are barriers to the eradication of polio. Disregard for these actors will result in stagnation of polio eradication policy, delaying eradication beyond 2018.

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