World Polio Day was initiated by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who developed a vaccine against poliomyelitis. The day is celebrated on 24 October.
Use of inactivated poliovirus vaccine and live oral poliovirus vaccine led to the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988. This is a public-private partnership that includes Rotary, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and governments of the countries.
Polio free India: India marks more than seven years since last polio case
India received polio-free certification along with the entire South-East Asia Region of WHO on 27th March 2014 by WHO. January 2018 marks seven years since the last case of polio was reported in India. This milestone, in a country once considered the most difficult to stop polio, demonstrates the importance of strong surveillance systems, intensive vaccination drive and targeted social mobilization efforts. But until the disease is eradicated, India must remain vigilant. That’s why on National Immunization Days children are vaccinated across the country to maintain high levels of childhood immunity.
World polio status today
Today, there are only three countries where transmission of wild poliovirus is occurring: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Polio cases have decreased by over 99.9% since 1988, from an estimated 3,50,000 cases then, to 22 reported cases in 2017 worldwide.
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children (under 5 years of age). The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can inter the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness of the neck and pain in the limbs. 1 in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually in the legs). Among those paralysed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become nonfunctional.
There is no cure, but safe and effective vaccines are there. Polio can be prevented through immunization. Polio vaccine given multiple times, almost always protects a child for life. The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunizing every child until transmission stops and the world is polio-free. There are two types of vaccine to prevention infection.
National Immunization Days
As Polio is eliminated from India but the risk of importation still persists from remaining three countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria) where poliovirus is still circulating, the need for the country is to maintain the population immunity and sensitive surveillance till global polio eradication happens. This is maintained through National and Sub National Polio rounds along with sustained high quality polio surveillance.
As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio.
“END POLIO NOW: COUNTDOWN TO HISTORY”