World Polio Day 2016: Polio Eradication Near Its Endgame

First Posted: Oct 24, 2016 04:20 AM EDT

On Rotary's second yearly World Polio Day event, top health officials said that polio eradication is near its endgame. This is after one year of exerting efforts to shrink cases of polio in different parts of the world.

According to Rotary, numerous people including global health experts and celebrity singers joined the World Polio Day event. They recognized the polio eradication progress resulting from the efforts of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). After 30 years of fighting the disease, it is now on the brink of ending the ailment by 2018. This will make polio the second infectious disease to be eliminated. The GPEI includes the Rotary, UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Director of CDC Tom Frieden said that the world without the crippling disease is within grasp now more than at any time in the past. The following month will mark the second year since the last case of wild poliovirus type 3. Independent reported that polio has already been eliminated in all countries except for three: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.

At present, Pakistan has 85 percent of global polio cases this year. The number of cases is 247 while last year was 298. On the other hand, Nigeria has only six registered cases this year. For this reason, it is safe to say that the country has gotten really close to eliminating polio.

A successful polio vaccine was developed in 1955 and the number of polio cases dramatically dropped since then. However, the world's poorest people were seldom vaccinated in the following decades. In 1985, Rotary International made a global effort to make the entire world polio free.  By 1994, only 80 countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe had active cases.  At present, Rotary International continues to help people especially children in poor countries. Free health camps and polio awareness rallies are organized and governments are engaged to take up the cause.

The World Polio Day is celebrated on October 24. This year's event is indeed a promising one.

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