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24th October of every year marks the celebration of World Polio Day. This initiative was started by the Rotary International to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis (polio). The main agenda of World Polio Day is to eradicate polio entirely and make the world polio-free. For this very mission, it is extremely important that all of us come together and make a move towards eradicating the epidemic, once and for all.
Together, here’s what we have achieved so far:
Polio cases have decreased by over 99%; which means we are 1% away from our ultimate goal.
In 2012, India was declared polio-free for one year and the number of polio cases globally fell from the previous year by 66 percent, to a total of 223.
Over 16 million people have been saved from paralysis.
Of the 3 strains of wild poliovirus (type 1, type 2, and type 3), wild poliovirus type 2 was eradicated in 1999 and no case of wild poliovirus type 3 has been found since the last reported case in Nigeria in November 2012.
The global effort has made it possible for countries to tackle other infectious diseases by building effective surveillance and immunization systems.
In 1988, the Forty-first World Health Assembly adopted a resolution for the worldwide eradication of polio. It marked the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), spearheaded by national governments, WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
80% of the world’s population now lives in certified polio-free regions.
An estimated 1.5 million childhood deaths have been prevented through polio vaccinations.
On the other hand, these are challenges that are in the way of a polio-free world:
1 in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis; out of which, 5%-10% die due to the immobilization of their breathing muscles.
One single child with polio puts all the other children in all other countries at the risk of contracting polio.
Failure to eradicate polio entirely could result in as many as 2,00,000 new cases every year.
Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan are not yet polio-free.
Who’s at risk?
Children under the age of 5 are at the risk of being infected by polio.
What can we do at an individual level to help?
At an individual level, our two primary goals are:
To create awareness about polio as much as possible by using all the forms of media and communication available at our disposal.
To ensure that every child is provided with time-to-time polio vaccinations until the epidemic is entirely eradicated.
This World Polio Day, let’s take a step together and make this world a better place for the people to live in.
Your efforts can change a million lives.