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World Polio Day - 24 October 2024

World Polio Day is annually observed on October 24. This day commemorates global efforts toward a polio-free future, as well as the selfless sacrifices of those working on the frontline of the battle to eradicate polio from every corner of the world. Polio is contagious due to the ease with which the poliovirus spreads.

Although the virus is now exceedingly rare because of modern interventions, it can impair the brain regions that govern respiration, resulting in death. Polio, which has no recognized therapy, can only be avoided through vaccination.

History of World Polio Day

For thousands of years, humans have been infected with the poliovirus. An Egyptian artifact from around 1400 B.C. depicts a person with a polio-like limb deformity. For most of the 1800s, polio appeared to be a relatively uncommon disease among human populations. When other diseases such as diphtheria, typhoid, and tuberculosis were on the wane in the early 1900s, polio reached pandemic proportions in countries with relatively good living standards. Researchers believe that enhanced hygiene has resulted in an increase in polio cases.

According to a hypothesis, children were inadvertently exposed to polio in the past due to polluted water supplies. If maternal antibodies are still present in babies’ blood, their immune systems can quickly attack the poliovirus and establish long-term immunity. Increased sanitation meant that polio exposure was delayed for years, on average, until a kid had lost maternal protection and was more vulnerable to polio’s most severe form.

In 1994, the Western Hemisphere was declared polio-free thanks to extensive vaccination. Only Afghanistan and Pakistan are affected by it, with the occasional spread to other nations. Vaccination campaigns are being conducted aggressively to eliminate the last residual pockets. As a result, polio vaccines are still recommended all over the world, particularly for children under the age of five, who are the most vulnerable to the infection.

World Polio Day Timeline

How to Observe World Polio Day
  • Donate to the cause

One of the most important things you can do to help stop polio is to offer your time, money, or voice to spread the word. Donating in whatever form you like helps a lot.

  • Host fundraisers

You can help stop polio by arranging a fundraiser. It can be a walk, a run, an event, or anything else, and the cash earned will be donated to one of the numerous groups fighting to eradicate polio.

  • Vaccinate your children

If you have not already done so, you can vaccinate your children against polio. Because there are asymptotic poliovirus carriers who can still spread the disease, it is critical to protect everyone by vaccinating every child.

5 Interesting facts about Polio

1. Children are mostly affected

Polio (poliomyelitis) primarily affects children under the age of five.

2. Irreversible paralysis

One in 200 infections results in permanent paralysis and when their respiratory muscles become immobilized, 5% to 10% of paralyzed people die.

3. Monitoring and immunization

To combat other infectious diseases, many countries have increased their ability to monitor and immunize their populations through a global effort.

4. Reduced cases

There were around 350,000 cases of polio worldwide in 1988, however, this figure has since dropped to only 37 confirmed cases in 2016.

5. One is far too many

Polio can spread across the globe as long as there is a single person who is still carrying the disease.

Why World Polio Day is Important
  • It spreads knowledge

World Polio Day raises awareness about the disease. With knowledge comes power, and we can use it to eradicate polio by playing our part in doing so.

  • It helps save lives

Many advances have been made in the fight to eradicate polio. One of humanity's great victories is that we have substantially reduced the number of cases, saving so many people from paralysis.

  • It helps in eradicating polio

The polio vaccine's goal is to eradicate the virus. To stop the virus's spread, eradication efforts will be maintained on this holiday by establishing mass immunization campaigns and expanding disease surveillance to catch any new instances that occur.

Rotary’s challenge now is to eradicate the wild poliovirus in the two countries where the disease has never been stopped: Afghanistan and Pakistan. Routine immunizations must also be strengthened in Africa to keep the virus from returning there. The polio partnership is working to rid the world of all strains of poliovirus, so that no child is affected by polio paralysis ever again.

To eradicate polio, multiple high-quality immunization campaigns must be carried out each year in polio-affected and high-risk countries. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary to maintain populations’ immunity against polio while also protecting health workers from the coronavirus and making sure they don’t transmit it.

Rotary has contributed more than $2.1 billion to polio eradication since it launched the PolioPlus programme in 1985, and it’s committed to raising $50 million each year for polio eradication activities. Because of a 2-to-1 matching agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, each year, $150 million goes toward fulfilling Rotary’s promise to the children of the world: No child will ever again suffer the devastating effects of polio.

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