|The eradication of smallpox is one of public health's greatest achievements. In 1977, ten years after the WHO began an intensive eradication program, the last naturally occurring case of smallpox was identified in Somalia. And on May 8, 1980, the World Health Assembly declared smallpox eradicated.Once endemic to 125 countries, today polio transmission continues uninterrupted in only 4 countries: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan; all but India are considered among the world's top failing states.
Until polio is eradicated everywhere, it remains a concern for all countries. The spread of polio is just one way that the instability of failing states presents risks to the rest of the world. This raises a troubling question: In a world of failing states, is the goal of eradicating polio, once so close at hand, now beyond our reach?