Dr. Pirio led the broadcast initiative within the International Broadcasting Bureau, the Voice of America and Worldnet Television designed to mobilize millions of people in Africa, Asia and Europe to have their children vaccinated against the polio virus. Because of a concerted international effort, the number of cases of polio worldwide has dropped spectacularly, going from 350,000 cases in 1988 when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative began to just a few hundred today. This eradication initiative aims to eliminate all cases due to the wild virus throughout the world.
Eighteen Voice of America (VOA) language services, Worldnet Television and the VOA News Service were involved with the project. English to Africa, French to Africa, Portuguese to Africa, Swahili, Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromo, Hausa, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, Bangla, Pashto, Dari, Kurdish, Turkish, Uzbek and Azeri language services delivered news, features, public service announcements and other broadcasting to emphasize the message that immunization against polio is the only way to prevent infection which may cause paralysis or death
VOA's extensive broadcasting on polio sought to keep the global eradication effort on the front burner of the world's media. As part of the initiative, VOA broadcast a number of serialized radio dramas designed to advance community awareness of polio and other health issues. Among the journalistic themes of the project. reporters examined and exposed popular myths that discouraged parents from having their children vaccinated, and other reports held accountable the international agencies and national governments in effectively carrying out vaccination campaigns.
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VOA also sponsored sporting events and listener contest to get people to take action.