Polio Eradication the World OverKeith
Eradicating the Disease Forever
A few years ago Smallpox disappeared from our planet by a combined effort to eradicate it forever, now Polio is heading the same way.
This disease was feared throughout the world, striking suddenly and usually paralysing children for life. WHO is a partner in the Global Eradication Initiative, which has reduced polio by 99%. It now survives only among the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities, where it stalks the most vulnerable children. The Initiative’s goal is to reach every last child with polio vaccine and ensure a polio-free world for future generations.
Whilst it is a distant memory over most of the planet, it still exists in some areas and mainly affects children under 5. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually in the legs). Among those paralysed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.
In 1988, when the Global Eradication Initiative was formed, polio paralysed more than 350 000 people a year. Since that time, polio case numbers have reduced by more than 99%.
The 2 countries are Afghanistan and Pakistan. They face a range of challenges such as insecurity, weak health systems and poor sanitation. It can spread from these ‘endemic’ countries to infect children in other countries with less-than-adequate vaccination.
There are 3 strains of wild poliovirus, none of which can survive for long periods outside of the human body. If the virus cannot find an unvaccinated person to infect, it will die out. Type 2 wild poliovirus was eradicated in 1999 and case numbers of type 3 wild poliovirus are down to the lowest-ever levels.
There are 2 forms of vaccine available for the disease – oral polio vaccine (OPV) and inactivated polio vaccine (IPV). Because OPV is an oral vaccine, it can be administered by anyone, even volunteers. One dose of OPV can cost as little as 14 US cents.
In fact, it is the largest-ever internationally-coordinated public health effort in history. It is spearheaded by national governments, WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF, and is supported by key partners including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Underpinning the effort is a global network of more than 20 million volunteers worldwide who have collectively immunized nearly 3 billion children over the past 20 years.
Read more at : http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/polio/facts/en/