World Polio Day observed on 24th October

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24th October is annually observed as World Polio Day with an aim to create awareness about the hazards of the crippling Polio disease. Rotary International organises various events to mark this day. It is planning to make the world polio free by 2019 for which it is creating  awareness and stepping up the vaccination campaign. United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has vowed not to rest until the number of cases is zero.

Background :-

World Polio Day was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis. Use of this inactivated poliovirus vaccine and subsequent widespread use of the oral poliovirus, developed by Albert Sabin, led to the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988. Since then, GPEI has reduced polio worldwide by 99%. 

Global fight against Polio :-

  • Till 2012 the wild poliovirus existed in 125 countries. Now, it exists in two countries Pakistan and Afghanistan. Nigeria the most populous country of africa was the hub of polio virus where more than half of the Polio cases in the world were found but recently last month Nigeria was removed from the list of polio endemic countries having successfully interrupted transmission of wild poliovirus. Such an achievement has encouraged countries in the African region to get closer to being certified polio-free.
  • According to UNICEF, there have been 51 cases of wild polio virus globally since the beginning of 2015, compared with 242 wild polio cases for 2014. UNICEF delivered 1.7 billion doses of vaccine last year to support the training of the frontline workers and help to build trust in the vaccine among parents and communities in some Nigeria and Pakistan.

India's fight against Polio :- An immunisation campaign named "Pulse Polio" was established by the government of India to eliminate poliomyelitis (polio) in India by vaccinating all children under the age of five years against polio virus.

(I) Vaccination Programs by government of India :-

  • In India, vaccination against Polio started in 1978 with Expanded Program in Immunisation (EPI). By 1984, it was successful in covering around 40% of all infants, giving 3 doses of OPV to each. 
  • In 1985, the Universal Immunisation Program (UIP) was launched to cover all the districts of the country. UIP became a part of child survival and safe motherhood program (CSSM) in 1992 and Reproductive and Child Health Program (RCH) in 1997. 
  • This program led to a significant increase in coverage, up to 95%. The number of reported cases of polio also declined from 28,757 during 1987 to 3,265 in 1995.
  • In 1995, following the Polio Eradication Initiative of World Health Organization (1988), India launched Pulse Polio Immunisation Program along with Universal Immunisation Program which aimed at 100% coverage.

(II) India finally a "Polio free country" :-The last reported cases of wild polio in India were in West Bengal and Gujarat on 13 January 2011. On 27 March 2014, World Health Organization (WHO) declared India a polio free country, since no cases of wild polio had been reported in previous three years.

About Poliomyelitis:-

Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis, is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus. The disease was first recognized as a distinct condition by Michael Underwood in 1789 and the virus that causes it was first identified in 1908 by Karl Landsteiner. Major outbreaks started to occur in the late 19th century in Europe and the United States. In the 20th century it became one of the most worrying childhood diseases in these areas. The first polio vaccine was developed in the 1950s by Jonas Salk

(I) Syptoms :-Approximately 90% to 95% of infections cause no symptoms. Another 5 to 10% of people have minor symptoms such as: fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, neck stiffness and pains in the arms and legs.

(II) Transmission :-Poliovirus is usually spread from person to person through infected feces entering the mouth.[1] It may also be spread by food or water containing human feces and less commonly from infected saliva. Those who are infected may spread the disease even if no symptoms are present for up to six weeks. The disease may be diagnosed by finding the virus in the feces or detecting antibodies against it in the blood.

(III) Cure :-There is no cure for polio, however the disease is preventable with the polio vaccine; however, a number of doses are required for it to be effective



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