Ro­tary on a mis­sion to stop the global spread of po­lio

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO NEWS - Welling­ton Mak­wakwa

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.

Pre­vent­ing po­lio

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

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.

Po­lio can be pre­vented by vac­ci­na­tion against the virus that causes the dis­ease Larry Bent­ley

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