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Celebrating World Polio Day: Why It Is Important

Because of the use of the polio vaccine, the disease is expected to be eradicated in the near future which is a great reason to celebrate on October 24.

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Updated:October 24, 2019, 2:36 PM IST
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Celebrating World Polio Day: Why It Is Important
Because of the use of the polio vaccine, the disease is expected to be eradicated in the near future which is a great reason to celebrate on October 24.

Polio is today such a rare occurrence that today’s youth may not even be aware of the havoc it wreaked on generations past. This is why October 24, World Polio Day, is important. It’s the day that we remind ourselves of the harsh consequences of the disease, celebrate the success of the polio vaccine, and emphasise the importance of immunising our children in a mission to completely eradicate it.

A Closer Look: What Is Polio?

Polio is a disease that paralyses one or more limbs and can also be fatal. It is caused by a viral infection by the poliovirus. A polio attack usually has no symptoms, except for maybe some symptoms similar to the flu such as fever and body pain. In serious cases, it attacks the nervous system and kills nerve cells which result in paralysis of those muscles - this is known as acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and happens in about one in 200 cases of polio infections. The polio virus can also invade motor neurons in the brain stem, which can result in compromised breathing capacity, with the patient facing trouble talking and swallowing. These cases can lead to permanent disabilities.

Our Role In Stopping Polio

There is no treatment that can cure polio once it has been contracted, therefore, the only way to stop its devastating effects is to completely eradicate the disease by making immunisation available to the entire population. The polio vaccine should be administered to children under the age of five multiple times. The vaccine is available in the form of a liquid (taken orally) or injection. In India, the liquid form, known as Oral Polio Vaccine or OPV is used.

We can all help in the worldwide goal to eradicate polio by first making sure that our children are immunised and spreading the word to other parents and guardians about the necessity for timely immunisation. Take this month celebrating World Polio Day to talk to family, friends, colleagues and domestic help about immunisation against the polio virus and why it is crucial. This message is especially useful to underprivileged and undereducated individuals who may lack awareness about this healthcare priority so ensure you spread the word to those you feel may not know about it.

A Cause For Celebration

Polio used to be a dreaded, life-altering disease before 1955 when the vaccine was introduced, paralysing children in about 1 in 200 infections. Even during the 1980s, the disease was still affecting children worldwide. Later in that decade, the World Health Assembly vowed to eradicate polio, setting up the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Since then, billions of children have been immunised and the disease is on its way to being wiped out, with just 0.01% of polio cases reported across the globe.

However, it is only when every child and individual has received the vaccine that the risk of reintroduction of the virus to every country in the world can be eliminated. For now, even though there are only a handful of infection cases every year, this is enough to pose a risk to polio-free nations and the entire population.

So far, because of the use of the polio vaccine, the disease is expected to be eradicated in the near future which is a great reason to celebrate on October 24.

This is a partnered post.

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