World Polio Day October 24
Every year on 24 October, people around the world shine a spotlight on the importance of the global eradication of polio, a devastating, debilitating disease that had erupted around the world during the 20th century crippling and killing hundreds of thousands of people in its path.
In 1988, a highly successful global campaign was introduced by private and public organizations to eradicate polio and the impact has been astounding. At the start of the campaign, more than 350,000 children were paralyzed each year in more than 125 countries. This year, we saw the number drop down to only 145 cases, India claimed her victory of being polio-free and the disease remains endemic in only three countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria). Tremendous success has been achieved through effective partnership between governments, private and public organizations and communities to implement and achieve a large-scale polio vaccination program that leaves not a single child behind.
We’ve come a long way in eradicating polio over the last 24 years. Amazing progress has been made against this debilitating disease. Now we are 99% Polio-free yet there is still work to be done. The virus is easily transmitted and only 1 child out of 100 will ever show any symptoms of having polio meaning it is hard to stop it from spreading. In order to eradicate polio, all children need to be vaccinated and not one can be left behind.
At the beginning of 2012, India victoriously declared herself polio-free, an amazing accomplishment. In one of the most populous nations in the world (a country of 1.2 billion people) that has many places that are extremely difficult to reach, the massive effort to vaccinate India’s children and wipe the deadly polio virus away, has been a hair-raising feat. Just two years before, India had the more cases of polio than any other country in the world. Now it is off the list of endemic polio countries proving that the polio eradication is possible.
At the Social Good Summit held in September in New York City, we learned how people are using technology to change the world and in particular, how the use of mobile phones has greatly enhanced countries like India’s ability to track polio vaccinations to make sure not a single child is missed.
We are now at a historic moment in time and have the opportunity once and for all to wipe out polio and eradicate the disease forever. If we do so, it would be only the second time in history since we’ve successfully eradicated a disease (Small Pox was eradicated in 1980).
We have the technology, the knowledge and the support to “finish the job” but now we need to ensure we have the financial means. Fundraising remains critical. Per World Polio Day 24/10, “The main thing that could threaten the polio eradication effort would be a dramatic funding shortfall (estimated at $945 million, which represents almost half the amount originally budgeted for 2012-13).
We can’t stop now. We’ve come so close to eradicating polio which would be the second time in history since we’ve eradicated a disease.
How can you help? Spread the world. Share the story. Support Shot@Life. As little as $20 provides the four major vaccines needed to vaccinate a child for life. Only $20….the cost of so little but can do so much and save a life.
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