- The World Polio Day is celebrated on 24 October on the birth anniversary of Jonas Salk, the person credited with the development of the injectable polio vaccine.
- Polio currently is endemic in only two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- India has achieved the daunting task of making the country free of the wild type of virus.
It was first established over a decade ago by Rotary International.
‘The success of the polio immunization program has brought this crippling disease close to its end.’
AdvertisementHere are some facts about polio:
- Polio is the most probable viral infectious disease to join smallpox as the next infection to be eradicated with the help of vaccines. From epidemics in the 1940s and the 1950s that affected around half a million people every year, it has been reduced to being endemic in only two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- Polio is a viral disease that usually affects children and cripples them for life. The polio virus affects the nervous system and causes weakness of muscles. An infection that may first appear with flu-like symptoms can result in crippling the individual, or even death if the respiratory muscles are affected. With no cure available for polio, immunization is the only way that the infection can be curbed.
- Statistics on polio reflect the commendable job done by various governments and health organizations throughout the world. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) started in 1988 has played a major role in the drastic reduction of polio cases by a whopping 99%. When the initiative was started, there were around 350 000 cases in more than 125 endemic countries. This number has reduced to a double-digit number - 74 reported cases in 2015, out of which 54 cases were reported from Pakistan and 20 from Afghanistan. This number is less than that recorded in the previous year. Nigeria has also been certified as wild polio virus free in 2015.
- Polio has been curbed through the use of multiple doses of polio vaccines. There are two polio vaccines available - the oral vaccine which is administered as drops, and the injection vaccine. Vaccination starts at birth and boosters are continued till the child is five years of age, which are the years where the child is most susceptible to the infection. Vaccination provides life-long immunity to the viral infection.
- Currently, most people live in regions that are declared polio free. However, if the polio virus continues to thrive and spread in regions where it is currently present, it always has the potential to spread to other areas of the world. Therefore, it is extremely important that every child should be protected from polio.
- Through its vaccination programs, India has achieved the tough task converting a country with highly prevalent polio to a polio-free nation. The last case of wild polio virus in India was reported in 2011. Ongoing vaccination under the Pulse Polio Program has ensured that no new cases have been detected. Government commitment and awareness among the people have been major factors contributing to the mission of making India polio free.
- Polio eradication would be a major achievement for governments and health care systems all over the world. Let us join hands in making the world polio-free. We have to continue immunizing our kids and increasing awareness till such time that the World Health Organization declares the world polio-free.