Polio – the Last Word documents the progress seen in the 20th century toward the eradication of polio and what remains to be done in the 21st.
Thirty-five years ago, an intensive program of vaccination virtually eliminated polio from the developed world, but in the poorer countries the disease still claims 400,000 victims every year. It's an unacceptable state of affairs, which the World Health Organization has promised to stop—by wiping polio off the face of the earth by the year 2000. This film documents the history of this epic human undertaking, from the terrifying polio epidemics that raged in the early years of the twentieth century, to the development of the vaccines by Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, and the extraordinary effort by ordinary people to spread the vaccine throughout the world. Now there's the real possibility that if remote regions can be reached with the vaccine, and the level of immunization is maintained worldwide, polio—like smallpox, can be eliminated forever.