n 1988, my family traveled from America to India to visit the homeland of my birth. At age 11, I vividly remember seeing beggars crippled by polio, crawling on the ground. I remember them staring at me. I, too, have polio, but I am able to walk with leg braces and crutches.
I contracted polio as a baby in India. I was adopted from an orphanage at age 3 and moved to America.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched in 1988 to end polio, which was endemic in India, paralyzing 200,000 children annually. The U.S. government signed on and has been a leading member since, contributing $2 billion of the $14-billion global effort. Because the initiative has championed global polio vaccination, cases have dropped 99.9%.
A disease that once paralyzed over 1,000 children a day was down to 37 cases last year.