The World stands united against Children Poliomyelitis (polio) on 24th October 2015. The day is observed annually and marks an extensive global campaign against the highly contagious viral disease, ranging from mild to severe infection which is often followed by paralysis of some parts of the body, especially the lower limbs among children. Unknown to many, Polio is actually a seasonal occurrence, as it tends to spread in the spring and summer until the end of the fall season.
Millions of children were saved through vaccination campaigns led by a WHO (World Health Organisation) global initiative with 166 member countries. It was unanimously decided that October 24th of each year would be designated as the World Polio Day.
Since 1988, the number of polio cases has declined more than 99%. India is now officially free from Polio. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia polio vaccination programs carried out by the Ministry of Health from 1990 had positively reduced this disease among children with a success rate of more than 90 %. African and Sub-Saharan countries are still struggling to come to terms with this menace but with extensive campaigning and continuous education drives, there has been a decrease in the number of cases reported from these countries as well.
The only effective way to prevent Polio is through immunisation or administering vaccination. Inactivated poliovaccine (IPV) is given as a shot and, since 2000, is the only type of polio vaccine available in most countries. Children should receive four doses of IPV vaccine starting at 2 months of age.
However, of late it seems that this disease is not going to be easily eradicated. A rather surprising fact is that the vaccine itself is the source of newer cases of this disease.
Where the world health officials are declaring a victory on polio in India, they are calling a global meeting in Switzerland on the problem of vaccine-caused polio.
The problem is that while the oral vaccine has reined in wild strains of polio, the wild virus is being replaced by vaccine-derived polio virus (VDPV), which in turn causes acute flaccid paralysis. The matter poses a serious concern and an international meeting, organised by the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Japanese Ministry of Health, is scheduled for May 30-June 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland. The convention decided that more research led effort and new technology along with increased funding needs to be aligned so as to work out a better vaccine that would curb the problem without causing more trouble for our future generations.
Awareness is key in defeating this monstrosity that refuses to die down.