Polio might be just a memory in most of the world, but the disease still exists, mainly affecting children under 5. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis, which, if they affect the breathing muscles, may lead to death.
Due to vaccination efforts, we are 99% of the way to eradicating polio globally, but there are three countries, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan which have never stopped transmission of polio. Polio from these “endemic” countries can infect children in other countries where vaccination is less than adequate.
There are three strains of wild poliovirus, none of which can survive for long periods outside the human body. Type 2 wild poliovirus was eradicated in 1999 and type 3 has not been found in the world since 2012.
Cheap and effective vaccines are available to prevent polio. The oral polio vaccine (OPV) is easy to administer, even by volunteers, and is inexpensive.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative which has five partners (WHO, ROTARY, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), UNICEF, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) has utilised 20 million volunteers over.the last 20 years. These volunteers have immunised nearly 3 billion children.
Large-scale vaccination rounds help rapidly boost immunity, not only against polio but, with little additional cost, other health interventions, for example, Vitamin A, give a general boost to immunity enabling children to fend off a range of infections.
EVERY CHILD MUST BE VACCINATED TO ERADICATE POLIO, including those living in the most remote and underserved places of the planet.
A misconception has arisen, in some Muslim countries, that polio vaccine contains haram ingredients and could cause impotence and infertility in male children, leading some parents not to have their children vaccinated. Attacks on vaccination teams have not helped.
It is also important that children in developed countries are vaccinated. Due to the dropping rates of vaccination in these countries, including Australia, they are leaving themselves open to polio epidemics. In these days of world travel it would only take one case to spread the disease and all the misery it can bring,
Post-polio syndrome (PPS) may occur after a period of prolonged stability in individuals who had been infected and recovered from polio. They begin to experience new signs and symptoms such as decreased muscle mass, weakness, pain, and fatigue. Problems breathing or swallowing, sleep-related breathing disorders and decreased tolerance for cold temperatures are other notable symptoms. Treatment is limited to adequate rest, conservation of available energy, and supportive energy measures such as leg braces and energy-saving devices such as powered wheelchairs, analgesia and sleep aids.
Well known polio survivors:
Alan Marshall Author “I can jump puddles”
Alan Alda Actor “Mash”
Arthur C. Clarke Writer “2001 A Space Odyssey”
John Laws Radio Presenter
Kim Beazley Politician
And many others, too numerous to mention.
The Rotary Club of Bribie Island are holding a Trivia night tomorrow 24 October with proceeds going to Rotary’s End Polio Campaign. Also a High Tea will be held tomorrow between 10am and 12 noon at the Bribie Island Hotel, Sylvan Esplanade, Bellara. Cost is $36. Please ring Anne Matthews on 0409 244 005 if you would like to attend.