Polio, a viral disease
of childhood that causes paralysis, is at the brink of eradication today
widespread and organized use of the two polio vaccines, the oral Sabin vaccine
and the injectable Salk vaccine with the support of governments as well as of
non-government organizations all over the world have demonstrated that health
issues can well be controlled through a dedicated and coordinated approach by
‘World Polio Day is celebrated on the 24th of October every year. Eradication of polio will ensure that no child is crippled due to the viral infection.’
Eradication of polio is necessary to enable children
to lead better lives
. Polio is caused by a virus often found in
unhygienic conditions that are spread through the feco-oral route. It causes
irreparable damage to the affected person. Since it affects the nervous system,
it paralyses the child, usually less than 5 years of age, who often has to
depend on crutches for the rest of his/her life. The legs become thin and
wasted. As the child grows into a disabled adult, the ability to work is
restricted, which can have a huge economic impact on the country.
Since polio does not
have a cure, the only way to deal with it is to get children vaccinated on a
. Since the virus does not last outside the human body for
much time, it is one of the diseases where eradication is possible. Additional
doses of vaccination are often recommended and administered through mass
campaigns. The programs also check children for other health issues like vitamin deficiencies
ensuring better health.
impact of preventive measures for polio has been huge. Today, 16 million people are walking who may have been paralyzed, had
polio not been controlled
. These people who would otherwise have been a
burden, now contribute to a huge extent to the global economy.
results of the polio eradication campaign are a reflection of the dedicated
efforts of numerous organizations the world over. The number of polio cases had come down by a staggering 99.9% since 1988, when the Global Polio
Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was established.
three strains of the wild poliovirus, the type 2 virus was eradicated in 1998,
while cases caused by the type 3 wild poliovirus have not been detected
anywhere in the world since 2012. Today,
polio is endemic only in three countries - Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Efforts have been stepped up in these countries to reach out to all the
children at risk and eradicate the disease.
though the infection is present only in a small part of the world, there is
always a danger that it could re-emerge if the vaccination programs are
relaxed. Statistics reveal that if polio
is not eradicated, around 200,000 children could get paralyzed every year
within ten years
. Till polio is completely eradicated, any child in the
world is at risk of getting infected with the virus.
was once considered as a country where polio eradication would be difficult.
However, India has shown the world that nothing is impossible when individuals,
communities, government and non-government organizations and international organizations
come together - the entire South-East
Asia along with India has been declared polio-free in 2014
. The last polio case in India was reported
This was a remarkable achievement considering the fact that in
2009, India reported 741 cases, which were more cases than any other country in
the world. However, polio vaccination in India has to be continued intensively
as it is being done currently, especially since polio exists in the neighboring
countries. The injectable vaccine has now been introduced along with the oral
polio vaccine, to prevent rare cases of vaccine-derived polio, which could
occur with the oral vaccine.
polio is indeed eradicated, it will be just the second viral infection after
smallpox to achieve the status.
- World Polio Day - (https://www.endpolio.org/world-polio-day)