Poliomyelitis is a decapitating disease caused by the polio virus. This disease primarily affects children, particularly those below the age of 5. Various voluntary organizations have been working steadfastly against this illness. The polio vaccine along with programs that generate awareness, have been found to be an effective solution towards its eradication in the world. The World Health organization, along with voluntary organizations and local governments in all countries continue in their efforts to eradicate the disease. Although many countries have either completely eradicated the disease or is on the verge of 100 percent eradication, a recent outbreak of wild poliovirus has been a major setback.
October 24th is the annual observance of the World Polio Day. Established by Rotary International more than 10 years ago, this initiative educates the general population about polio, its causes and means of prevention. The origin of the day can be traced to the birthday of Jonas Silk, the leader of the first team to develop a polio vaccine. The day honors his contribution to the successful outreach of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) established in 1988. Thanks to the combined international efforts, 99 percent of polio has been eradicated all over the world.
The importance of the day can be attributed to the journey of polio eradication that began in 1988. The activities against polio are not restricted to 24th October alone and are spread out throughout the year. Periodic education programs and vaccination drives are among the major activities towards eradication of polio. The progress made toward eradication is an example of a global initiative that is close to its realization. The outbreaks of this disease are now restricted to 3 countries, viz. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. The reported cases have also come down dramatically from 350,000 children a year, a decade ago to mere thousands today.
Voluntary organizations like Rotary International organize activities like seminars on this day to generate awareness about the ongoing international efforts as well as the results of these efforts. These seminars and other activities ensure that the personnel remain focused and committed towards the goal of completely eradicating the disease from the world. The importance of the day lies in making plans on how to celebrate the day, but in formulating effective strategies will ensure the efforts and activities pay rich dividends.
It is of particular importance that the activities are organized not just on a single day, but throughout the year. Truly a global initiative on epic scales, the Polio eradication drive can be termed as highly successful in terms of its ability to reach billions of people all over the world. Of special mention here is the hard work of various individuals including the health officials of all countries, the volunteers associated with organizations like Rotary International as well as International Organizations like the United Nations and The World Health Organization.
"Childhood vaccines are one of the great triumphs of modern medicine. Indeed, parents whose children are vaccinated no longer have to worry about their child's death or disability from whooping cough, polio, diphtheria, hepatitis, or a host of other infections."
- Ezekiel Emanuel
"Humans have always used our intelligence and creativity to improve our existence. After all, we invented the wheel, discovered how to make fire, invented the printing press and found a vaccine for polio."
- Naveen Jain
"Polio's pretty special because once you get an eradication, you no longer have to spend money on it; it's just there as a gift for the rest of time."
- Bill Gates
"Having children made us look differently at all these things that we take for granted, like taking your child to get a vaccine against measles or polio."
- Melinda Gates
"I had polio when I was 13. I started feeling stiff, my joints ached, and over a two-week period I lost my coordination and 20 pounds."
- Jack Nicklaus
"Americans spend more money on Botox, face lifts and tummy tucks than on the age-old scourges of polio, small pox and malaria."
- Victor Davis Hanson
"My fear is that if we don't take remedial steps to control polio in the tribal areas, we will be faced with international sanctions."
- Mamnoon Hussain
"I am the daughter of Nigerian immigrants. My mother is a survivor of both polio and of the Igbo genocide during her country's civil war in the late 1960s."
- Uzo Aduba
"I went to several different grade schools all over the West Coast. I got polio when I was 8 and spent eight months in the hospital and a rehab clinic in Seattle."
- Dennis Washington
"Because I could dance, my folks went through hell so I could be in movies. But I didn't dance in pictures. I cried! At one point I had polio, which I believe was a result of the stress I felt in the studios."
- David Holt
"There are very few issues that lie specifically in one region now. Polio in Syria doesn't affect Syria alone. I don't think any issue can ever be isolated into local politics these days, because we all know too much."
- Cate Blanchett
"My mother is a fighter. After she battled polio and learned to walk again, the doctors told her she would be a cripple her entire life. Instead of accepting defeat, she refused this fate and went on to become the West African Women's Singles tennis champion in college."
- Uzo Aduba