This week as we mark World Polio Day I wanted to share a few facts about polio and the vaccine that saves lives. Just one week ago I was in Zambia doing a fellowship with the UN Foundation’s global vaccine program called Shot @ Life. On our last day in Livingstone, we visited the Mahatma Gandhi clinic where moms and dads brought their babies to receive the appropriate vaccines needed for their age group. Many babies were receiving the oral polio vaccine, as shown below. It’s the type of global vaccination initiative that Shot@Life supports in many countries around the world.
The time we spent in Zambia was remarkable and educational. I was incredibly impressed with some of the innovative ways businesses and health care providers are delivering quality health care throughout the country. I will share some of those stories throughout the next month. In Zambia, we visited clinic after clinic and a hospital as well. It was extremely apparent that despite numerous obstacles to getting vaccinated in Zambia, people are well educated regarding vaccines and the value of health care. In fact, many moms will walk up to 8 kilometres just to get their child vaccinated.
October 24th is World Polio Day. It’s a chance to recognize that we have the potential globally to eradicate polio. But we need to continue advocating with politicians and policymakers to help make a polio free world a reality for children and families. For more information about how to get involved visit: http://polioeradication.org/news-post/polios-last-stand/
Ten Facts About World Polio Day
- The polio vaccine is a relatively new vaccine and it is also one of the biggest breakthroughs of the twentieth century.
- Jonas Salk led a team to develop the poliomyelitis vaccine in 1952.
- At its worst, the world saw 350,000 cases of polio a year.
- Polio is now endemic only in 3 countries – Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- India is the most recent country to have been declared polio free.
- In 2015 there were only 72 cases of polio reported worldwide. This year so far only about 30 cases have been reported.
- Polio causes fever, fatigue, vomiting, painful limbs and occasional paralysis. Once a child is paralyzed by polio it is for life. There is no cure. One in every 200 people infected with polio will be paralyzed. Of the people who are paralyzed 5 to 10 % die when their breathing muscles are paralyzed by the virus.
- We are on the brink of eradicating polio forever, just as small pox was eradicated and officially declared eradicated by the World Health Assembly in 1980 after a lengthy campaign of education, vaccination and surveillance.
- Until polio is eliminated worldwide all countries are at risk.
- Polio mainly affects children under 5.
World Polio Day – End Polio Now
I travelled with The UN Foundation’s Shot@Life global childhood vaccine program to Zambia this month and am honoured to have received the fellowship with Shot@Life. I care deeply about global vaccines and the health of children and families worldwide. If you are interested in becoming more involved in advocating for global access to life-saving vaccines and eradication of polio you can and should sign up to be part of the Shot@Life community. Get involved with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative as well.