World Polio Day: Polio Eradication, How far?

Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA)
Polio is a highly infectious disease which is not as much life threatening as it is crippling. Also known as ‘Poliomyelitis’ in medical terms, it is a disease caused by the deadly ‘Poliovirus’ usually affecting children under 5 years of age, for this reason it is also known as ‘Infantile Paralysis’.
The virus mainly affects nervous system, leaving the person with a weak crippled leg and unable to walk normally throughout his life. In rare cases the muscles of neck or head may also get affected. In only 0.5% of cases the polio results in permanent paralysis mainly affecting the limbs i.e. legs, feet and ankle. During 1940s and 1950s polio killed or crippled nearly two million people globally. Fortunately in the past two decades the world has seen a steep decline in the total number of recorded cases with many parts like Europe, America and South East Asia being polio free. Thanks to the efforts of World Health Organization and Global Polio Eradication Initiative 1988, the globally recorded number of polio cases has reduced considerably from 350000 in 1988 to just 22 in 2017. The polio vaccine today is accessible to the masses even in most of the remotest locations of the world.
World Polio Day 2018 World Polio Day will be celebrated today, 24th October 2018 globally, to generate awareness towards eradication of polio as well as to commemorate the efforts of thousands of employees of WHO and other volunteers committed to the eradication of Polio. This year Celebration is themed “End Polio Now”. The World Polio Day was initiated by the Rotary Foundation nearly a decade ago with the aim of complete eradication of Polio virus from all the parts of the world. Rotary club is a partner in the Global Polio eradication Program with organizations like- World Health Organization, Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation and U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched by the Rotary International and World Health Organization in 1988, when there were nearly 350000 cases of polio in 125 countries. Though, 123 of the countries were declared polio free, only Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan are not yet declred Polio-free by the World health Organization, there is still a constant threat of the disease to reappear in any part of the world. Therefore, a need to celebrate World Polio Day was felt, to completely eradicate Polio virus globally through general awareness for vaccination, prevention and raising funds for different programs.
The World Polio Day is celebrated with only one prime objective, that is – to completely eradicate polio from all the parts of the world, making the world ‘Polio Free’.
The occasion also commemorates the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the team that developed the first vaccine for Poliomyelitis, along with commemorating the efforts of millions of dedicated employees and volunteers of the organizations committed to the cause.
The day also provides a platform to the organizations to raise necessary funds for the programs as it requires billion of dollars to successfully vaccinate every child in the world. On the World Polio Day 2017 the Rotary International and the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation together committed to raise 450 billion dollars for eradicating polio globally. With a huge and dedicated force of employees, volunteers and local public and administration, oral vaccination is provided to every infant, making a step towards ‘Complete Eradication of Polio’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *