As part of the Rotary International’s campaign to “Countdown to Zero: End Polio Now” campaign, Rotarians travel to Family Health Days in affected countries and assist in giving the oral vaccines to children with the assistance of local Rotary members.
Thanks in part to the organisation’s efforts, the disease is almost eradicated around the world.
In 1955 Jonas Salk created an injection from the inactivated virus and then Albert Sabin created an oral vaccine in 1962.
With these discoveries, the disease can now become the second to be permanently eradicated — smallpox, was the first.
However, polio is still alive in Afghanistan and is a threat in 17 high risk African and Asian countries.
The CDC recommends boosters for travellers to these countries.
There were 22 live cases in 2017. Afghanistan had five, and two more were added this week.
So far there are no new cases in Nigeria and Pakistan, countries with new cases last year.
In 1952 there was no cure for the very contagious disease, polio, and 57,628 in the US had the disease that dated back to 1400, according to Egyptian art.
One in 200 was paralysed; 2-5 per cent of children and 15-30 per cent of adults died; and 20 per cent had two limbs paralysed.
Garnering partners has been one of the strategies that has resulted in this good news.
The World Health Organisation ‘s role is surveillance; the CDC provides scientists; UNICEF distributes the vaccine; and Rotary International gives funds, volunteers, and advocacy.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has joined Rotary’s successful efforts by matching $2 for every $1 raised by Rotary.
Many citizens alive today remember a family member or friend who suffered from this disease, even to the extreme of living in an iron lung.