Zululand Observer - Weekender
Rotary on a mission to stop the global spread of polio
WORLD Polio Day was commemorated on Wednesday and thanks to Rotary International what was once an extremely devastating disease is now a success story.
Since 24 October 1985 Rotary has embarked on a mission to stop the spread of polio worldwide.
Rotary International took a momentous decision to tackle polio eradication worldwide through the mass vaccination of children.
At the time there were over 350 000 cases of polio present in 125 nations.
The name given to the project was ‘Polioplus’ and it has since been renamed ‘End Polio Now’.
They have donated $1.8-billion to PolioPlus and so far this year there have only been 19 cases of the ‘wild polio type’ virus in just two countries, namely Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The global incidence of polio has decreased by 99.9% and 2.5 billion children have been immunised.
In 2016 more than 450 million children were vaccinated multiple times using more than two billion doses of the oral polio vaccine.
By the time the world is certified polio-free, Rotary’s contributions to the global polio eradication effort will exceed $2.2-billion, including over $985-million in matching funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
‘Even if the last case of polio is identified this year, a huge amount of work will remain to ensure that it stays gone and that is why Rotary International has set a goal to raise a further $50-million this year,’ according to a statement by President of Rotary Club, Richard Brooks.
What do we know about polio?
Polio (which is short for poliomyelitis) is an infectious disease that can cause permanent muscle weakness, paralysis, and in severe cases, can be life-threatening. It is caused by a virus known as the poliovirus, which is very contagious and is spread by swallowing contaminated food or water, or by direct contact with an infected person.
Polio can be prevented by vaccination against the virus that causes the disease.
Two types of vaccine are available worldwide:
(i) The inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine (IPV), which is given by injection; and
(ii) The oral poliomyelitis vaccine (OPV), which is taken orally.
Post-polio syndrome is a recurrence of symptoms several years (usually 3040 years) after an initial episode of paralytic polio. The symptoms include general tiredness, as well as weakness and pain affecting the same muscle groups that were involved during the initial disease. Sometimes, weakness extends to involve muscles that were not initially affected.
It’s also possible for people with post-polio syndrome to develop breathing problems, difficulty in swallowing, sleep-related breathing disorders (such as sleep apnoea) and a decreased tolerance of cold temperatures.