Posted on September 21, 2017
It is no longer news that since Rotary International carried out the first mass polio vaccination in the Phillipines in 1978, it has led efforts to rid the world of the deadly and debilitating polio virus. These efforts coalesced into the formation of its flagship Polio Plus project in 1985 and its leadership in the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988.
Since that time, Rotary and its partners such as the World Health Organisation(WHO), United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF), the US Centers for Disease Control, the Gates Foundation, governments and nongovernmental partners across the world have succeeded in reducing the incidence of the disease by 99.9%.
Chairman, Nigeria National Polio Plus Commitee(NNPPC), Dr Tunji Funsho said, “We are now on course for the lowest incidence totals in recorded history,,even lower than the 37 cases found last year in the 3 countries of Pakistan,Afghanistan and Nigeria. Efforts to eradicate the disease have been based mainly on the drive to vaccinate every vulnerable and susceptible child in every part of the world.
“ This has been made possible by the development of life saving vaccines by Jonas Salk who developed the injectible Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) and Albert Sabin who developed the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). The World Polio Day was established by Rotary over a decade ago to mark the birthday of Jonas Salk who developed the first effective vaccine against polio and has been celebrated every year since then on October 24 by Rotary and its partners all over the world with activities aimed at advoacy, creating awareness on the need to
sustain efforts at eradication , volunteerism and fundraising.
From 350,000 cases in 1988 to 37 cases in 2016
“These activities have contributed significantly into the reduction of the disease incidence from over 350,000 cases in 1988 to 37 in just three countries in 2016. We must however remain concious that even one case of polio is one case too many. No child deserves to be killed or paralysed by polio anywhere in the world. The efforts that have led us to the brink of a polio-free world have to be sustained in order for setbacks such as the one experienced in Nigeria in 2016 with 4 new cases found after 2 years without a single case of polio not to occur again.
“Infact , the WHO and UNICEF have estimated that unless current efforts are sustained,we could have as many as 200,000 new cases every year in just 10 years with the bulk of these being in developing countries such as Nigeria. Currently, efforts to rid the world of polio are being hindered in part by a huge funding gap. Rotary International and its partners recently raised over $1.2 billion in new pledges and donations towards closing this gap but even if all pledges are fulfilled, a deficit of $300 millionwill remain.
“In a bid to close this funding gap, Rotary International and Cycology Riding Club will embark on a series of activities in commemoration ofthe 2017 World polio Day.”
Cycology Riding Club is a not-for-profit recreational cycling club established in 2011 with the purpose of promoting the growth of cycling in Nigeria both as a healthy lifestyle choice and as a sport.As the premier private cycling organisation in the country, the club has experienced tremendous growth, going from 8 members at inception to over 300 members.
Funho continued, “These activities will include cycling, running, walking and carrying out other forms of physical exercise in order to create awareness and raise funds for polio eradication. Funds raised through these activities will be donated to the Rotary Foundation’s polioEradication Fund. These funds will then be channeled through the WHO,UNICEF and the NNPPC to fund polio eradication in Nigeria.
“The goal is for each rider to ride a minimum of 250km within this period and raise funds based on the distance ridden.We implore all Rotarians, friends of Rotary and all men and women of good will to join us in partaking in these activities and contributing to the Rotary Foundation’s polio Eradication Fund in order to finish the last and most difficult part of the job in ridding the world of the scourge of polio and bequeathing future generations with the gift of a polio-free world.”
Humans have observed the effects of polio for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The relatively history of outbreaks led to an allocation of resources with which to fight the disease.Throughout history, polio epidemics have led to the deaths of many thousands of people around the world. In 1916, for example, over 6,000 people died of polio in the United States(US)..
However, it wasn’t until 1953 that Jonas Salk developed the first polio vaccine, which led to the widespread prevention of poliomyelitis. Although polio has essentially been eradicated in the U.S. since 1979, and in the Western Hemisphere since 1991, children and adults in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria are still battling the disease.
Polio, in its most debilitating forms can cause paralysis and death. However, most people with polio don’t display any symptoms or become noticeably sick. When symptoms do appear, they differ depending on the type of polio. Symptomatic polio can be broken down further into a mild form, called non-paralytic or abortive polio, and a severe form called paralytic polio.
Many people with non-paralytic polio make a full recovery. Unfortunately, those with paralytic polio generally develop permanent paralysis. Non-paralytic polio, also called abortive poliomyelitis, leads to flu-like symptoms that last for a few days or weeks. These include: fever, sore throat, headache, vomiting, fatigue, back and neck pain, arm and leg stiffness, muscle tenderness and spasms, meningitis – an infection of the membranes surrounding the brain.
Paralytic polio affects only a small percentage of those invaded by the polio virus. In these cases, the virus enters motor neurons where it replicates and destroys the cells. These cells are in the spinal cord, brain stem, or motor cortex, which is an area of the brain important in controlling movements.
Symptoms of paralytic polio often start in a similar way as non-paralytic polio, but later progress to more serious symptoms such as a loss of muscle reflexes, severe muscle pain and spasms, loose or floppy limbs that are often worse on one side of the body.
Polio is often recognised because of symptoms, such as neck and back stiffness, abnormal reflexes, and trouble with swallowing and breathing. A doctor who suspects polio will perform laboratory tests that check for poliovirus by examining throat secretions, stool samples, or cerebrospinal fluid.
There are two vaccines available to fight polio – inactivated poliovirus (IPV), oral polio vaccine (OPV). IPV consists of a series of injections that start 2 months after birth and continue until the child is 4-6 years old. This version of the vaccine is provided to most children. The vaccine is made from inactive poliovirus. It is very safe and effective and cannot cause polio.
OPV is created from a weakened form of poliovirus, this version is the vaccine of choice in many countries because it is low cost, easy to administer, and gives an excellent level of immunity. However, in very rare cases, OPV has been known to revert to a dangerous form of poliovirus, which is able to cause paralysis.
Polio vaccinations, or boosters, are highly recommended for anyone who is not vaccinated or is unsure whether they are. Because there is no cure for polio once a person develops the virus, treatments are focused on increasing comfort, managing symptoms, and preventing complications. This can include bed rest, antibiotics for additional infections, painkillers, ventilators to help breathing, physiotherapy, moderate exercise, and a proper diet.
Historically, a person who developed lung paralysis due to polio was placed into an iron lung, a device that would push and pull chest muscles to make them work. However, more modern portable ventilators and jacket-type ventilators are now used instead.
The polio virus usually enters the environment in the faeces of someone who is infected. In areas with poor sanitation, the virus easily spreads from faeces into the water supply, or, by touch, into food. In addition, because polio is so contagious, direct contact with a person infected with the virus can cause polio.
Individuals who carry the poliovirus can spread it via their faeces for weeks, even if they have shown no symptoms themselves. Once the virus has entered an individual, it infects the cells of the throat and intestine. The virus stays within the intestines, before spreading to other areas of the body. Eventually, the virus moves into the bloodstream where it can spread to the entire body.
As is the case with many other infectious diseases, people who get polio tend to be some of the most vulnerable members of the population. This includes the very young, pregnant women, and those with immune systems that are substantially weakened by other medical conditions.
Anyone who has not been immunised against polio is especially susceptible to contracting the infection. Additional risk factors for polio include traveling to places where polio is endemic or widespread, especially Pakistan and Afghanistan, living with someone infected with polio, having a weak immune system, pregnant women are more susceptible to polio, but it does not appear to affect the unborn child, working in a laboratory where live poliovirus is kept.