24 October: World Polio Day
World Polio Day is observed annually across the world on 24 October. The day seeks to create awareness about the hazards of the crippling Polio disease.
To mark this day, Rotary International has organised numerous events across different countries. It is also planning to make world Polio free by 2019 by stepping up its vaccination campaigns.
Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) which was launched in 1988 has played pivotal role in eradication of wild poliovirus. When the initiative was launched the wild poliovirus existed in 125 countries. Now, it exists in two countries Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Till 2012, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country was the reservoir of more than half of the Polio cases in the world. But in 2015, World Health Organization (WHO) has removed Nigeria from the list of Polio endemic countries.
- World Polio Day has been established by Rotary International to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk who had led the first team of researchers which had developed a vaccine against poliomyelitis.
- This development had led to widespread use of this inactivated poliovirus vaccine and subsequently use of the oral poliovirus, developed by Albert Sabin.
- It had led to the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988 which has helped to reduce polio worldwide by 99%.
- Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children below age of 5.
- Transmission: The virus is transmitted from person-to-person. It mainly spreads through the faecal-oral route (e.g. contaminated water or food).
- After entering body, it multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
- Symptoms: Initial symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In some cases, it causes permanent paralysis.
- Treatment: There is no cure for polio, however it can only be prevented by immunization.
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