October 24th of every year is marked and celebrated as World Polio Day since a decade ago. Rotary International established this day with an aim to eradicate this deadly disease from the entire globe. This day is also celebrated to pay respect and gratitude to Jonas Salk, who created a vaccine to fight against polio. However, Albert Bruce Sabin further modified it to facilitate oral consumption.
What is polio?
‘Poliomyelitis’ also commonly known as polio, is caused due to a virus. It affects the neuro-sensory system of the human body and makes it weak. Poliovirus on coming in contact with human body starts multiplying, and in the due process of multiplication in the central nervous system, it destroys nerve cells. Due to this damage, nerve cells lose their ability to perform neuro-sensory functions.
This is a highly contagious disease which spreads due to contact between an infected person and a normal person. It also spreads through the consumption of contaminated food which gets infected due to the presence of faeces or fluids of the affected person. This disease mainly affects the legs of a person and make them crippled, but in extreme cases, it also affects the brain, neck and upper torso of the human body. Children below the age of 5 are highly prone to poliovirus.
Out of 200 infections, only 1 leads to irreversible paralysis. Among those paralysed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilised.
How does vaccine work against poliovirus?
On vaccinating a person against polio, certain antibodies are introduced in the body. It creates a local immune response which helps the body to remember the infection. On subsequent infection due to natural poliovirus, the body starts preparing antibodies against the virus due to the ‘memory’ it got through the vaccination.
Then and Now
World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Global Polio Eradication Program has helped our globe tremendously to minimise this disease to such an extent that it is almost eradicated.
Since 1988, the cases of wild poliovirus has decreased to 99%, from an estimated 350 000 cases. This decreased to 22 in 2017 all over the globe. It became possible due to the efforts of WHO and GPEI along with the cooperation of people across the world. In 2018 as per the record of WHO there were around 33 reported cases globally.
The theme of World Polio Day 2019 is yet to come. Last year it was ‘End polio now’. Introduction of exciting and attractive themes every year helps to seek the attention of people towards the issue and consider it with due concern.
These awareness programmes and campaigns initiated by WHO and respective governments of the country is praiseworthy as it has helped to free our people from this dreaded disease.
Cases of Polio in India
When it comes to India, the entire nation is thankful to the involved organisations and institutions, but also grateful to one of the most exceptional personality Mr Amitabh Bachchan. He became the brand ambassador of the polio eradication campaign in the year 2002. He justified his responsibility in such a fantastic manner that no other celebrity has ever become capable enough to work as efficiently as he did.
“DO BOOND ZINDAGI KI” is a line that drove this campaign and is remembered by every child of this nation. Due to the successful result of the polio eradication campaign, he is now associated with many eradication campaigns of various diseases.
However, the major challenge appeared to be the high efficiency of transmission within the populations of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states, set against the low (~80% after three doses against type 1) seroconversion response seen from the vaccine.
Once polio is eradicated, the world can glorify the delivery of a significant global public good that will benefit all people equitably, no matter where they live. Economic modelling has found that the elimination of polio would save at least US$ 40–50 billion, mostly in low-income countries. The success will mean that no child will ever again suffer the atrocious effects of lifelong polio-paralysis.