However, as history is never finished, the story of poliomyelitis is not yet over … the road will lead uphill for many years to come. So ends John Paul’s A history of Poliomyelitis. His words, written in 1971 still ring true today. Indeed, realists as well as pessimists are now having to admit that the prospects of exterminating polio may turn out to be ‘an impossible dream’. These words were not the ranting of some uninformed and outdated Cassandra, but the expert opinion of Drs Neetu Vashisht and Jacob Puliyel, two senior paediatricians in Delhi, writing in May 2012.1 Today, polio still represents one of the greatest causes of disability worldwide, with an estimated 10–20 million people affected.2 Across most of the planet, however, an entire generation has lived entirely free from polio, and it is as though the disease has already been written off.