223 – Eradicating Polio – What Are the Expectations
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Eradicating Polio

What Are the Expectations?

The number of successful humanitarian projects in the field of global health is remarkably big, such as the prevention and treatment of polio, despite the challenges faced along the way. Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus. It’s mostly spread through person-to-person contact and affected millions of people throughout history.

Eradicating Polio – The Work of Rotary International

Polio used to be very common around the world and caused for many to be affected before the polio vaccine was introduced in 1955. Most people infected with the polio virus have no symptoms; however, for the less than 1% who develop paralysis, it may result in permanent disability or worse. Pakistan was the home to almost all of the world’s polio cases just a few years ago. At hundreds of centers, teams of health workers put together by various compassionate organizations still verify that every child passing through receives the vaccine. These extraordinary efforts aim towards a zero transmission era.

This background story about polio brings us to Rotary International. In the past decades, Rotarians have played a huge part in eradicating polio by mobilizing and making sure that children received immunization against this disease. One of the key aspects of achieving results is attached to the establishment of active surveillance, despite the poor infrastructure, extreme poverty and civil strife of many countries. Rotary also largely contributed to the solving of the polio crisis in Pakistan, for example by opening a kiosk at the border checkpoint called Friendship Gate.

Since the PolioPlus program’s inception in 1985, more than two billion children have received the oral polio vaccine. To date, 209 countries, territories and areas around the world are polio-free, including India. But they’re not done yet. As of June 2011, Rotary International has committed more than US$850 million to global polio eradication.

Prevention and control Eradicating polio can succeed through immunization. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, almost always protects a person for life. There are two types of vaccine that protect against polio: inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) and oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV). IPV is given as an injection in the leg or arm, depending on the patient's age. Polio vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines. Most people get polio vaccine when they are children. Children get 4 doses of IPV at these ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months, and a booster dose at 4-6 years. OPV has not been used in the United States since 2000 but is still used in many parts of the world. Treatment There is no cure for polio, only treatment to alleviate the symptoms.  Heat and physical therapy is used to stimulate the muscles, and antispasmodic drugs are given to relax the muscles. While this can improve mobility, it cannot reverse permanent polio paralysis!

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