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World Polio Day: A win for polio is a win for global health


Hamna Humail

24th Oct, 2020. 06:46 pm
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World Polio Day
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Rotary’s World Polio Day programme on 24th October marks this year’s historic achievement in the eradication of Polio in Africa.

TV presenter and Paralympic medalist Ade Adepitan co-hosted this year’s programme saying that the eradication of polio in Africa was very personal for him. “Since I was born in Nigeria, this achievement is close to my heart,” says Adepitan, a polio survivor who contracted the disease as a child. “I’ve been waiting for this day since I was young.”

“But we’re not done,” Adepitan cautions. “We’re in pursuit of an even greater triumph — a world without polio. And I can’t wait.”

Five of the six regions of WHO are now free of the disease. These figures represent more than 90 percent of the world’s population. However, it still prevails in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in WHOs Eastern Mediterranean region.

“This effort required incredible coordination and cooperation between governments, UN agencies, civil organizations, health workers, and parents,” said Manek, a member of the Rotary Club of Muthaiga, Kenya. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

2020 challenges

A panel of global health experts in Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) discussed how the infrastructure that was built has helped eradicate Polio and aided communities tackle the needs that arose as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The infrastructure we built through polio in terms of how to engage communities, how to work with communities, how to rapidly teach communities to actually deliver health interventions, do disease surveillance, et cetera, has been an extremely important part of the effort to tackle so many other diseases,” says Dr. Bruce Aylward, Senior Adviser to the Director General at the WHO.

Future battles against Polio

The polio partnerships are working in order to get rid of all strains of poliovirus globally, so that no child is affected by the suffering caused by polio paralysis. Routine immunizations should be done in Africa to stop the virus from returning.

Rotary has contributed more than $2.1 billion for the eradication of Polio since it launched its Polio Plus Programme in 1985. It raises $50 million annually for polio eradication activities.

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