World Polio Day is celebrated on October 24th every year, and this year’s theme is “A win against polio is a win for global health” acknowledging the fact the humanity is very close to achieving the goal of having a polio-free world, after 30 years of global hard work. Only two countries – Pakistan and Afghanistan – remain affected by the polio epidemic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
World Polio Day was established by Rotary international to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to make a vaccine against poliomyelitis. Polio is a potentially deadly infectious disease. The best approach to eradicate polio is based on preventing infection by immunizing every child until the transmission of this disease stops and the world is polio-free.
Africa declared free from Polio
As per details, WHO has declared Africa free of the deadly polio virus after decades of documentation and immunization efforts to eradicate this viral disease worldwide.
“Today is a historic day for Africa” said Professor Rose Gana Fomban Leke, ARCC Chairperson “The African Regional Certification Commission for Polio eradication (ARCC) is pleased to announce that the Region has successfully met the certification criteria for wild polio eradication, with no cases of the wild poliovirus reported in the Region for four years,”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also appreciated the efforts of Africa on eradication of Polio. He tweeted “Big day for my African brothers & sisters – our continent will be declared #polio-free. This is one of the greatest public health achievements, demonstrating that with science & solidarity we can beat viruses & save lives.”
How was Polio eradicated in Africa?
In 1996, South African Prime Minister Nelson Mandela partnered with Rotary, an international non-profit organization to launch “Kick Polio out of Africa” Campaign. The first synchronized campaigns began in 17 countries, with 76 million children being vaccinated by tens of thousands of volunteers, and the work fanned out across the continent from there. Between 2008 to 2010, 85 million children were vaccinated in 24 countries in western and central Africa.
Will Pakistan ever be Polio-free?
Pakistan and Afghanistan remain the last two countries across the globe, where polio remains endemic and as long as it exists anywhere, it will remain a threat everywhere.
Today, as the world commemorates World Polio Day, Pakistan reaffirms its commitment to eradicating polio and making the country polio-free. Taking to the twitter, Chief Minister of Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar ensures that the government is fully committed towards eliminating polio from the country.
Pakistan lowered its wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) cases from 146 in 2019 to 69 cases this year, as stated in a report by Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme further confirmed that approximately 39 million children had been vaccinated against poliomyelitis during a nationwide immunization campaign in September.
Commenting on the country’s effort towards polio elimination, Dr Rana Muhammed Safdar Faisal Sultan, the Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme, appreciates the workforce engaged in achieving the goal of polio-free Pakistan.
There is no cure for polio, but it can be prevented through immunization. The sub-national campaign by Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme will resume in the country by the end of this month.