Posted on Nov 04, 2019
Most of us were too young to remember but sixty years ago, polio was one of the most feared diseases in the U.S.  By the 1950s, polio had become one of the most communicable diseases among children in the United States.  In 1950 alone, nearly 60,000 children were infected with the virus, thousands were paralyzed, and more than 3,000 died. Hospitals set up special units with iron lung machines to keep polio victims alive. Polio is so contagious that direct contact with an infected person can cause the disease.  In 1955 the US began widespread vaccinations and by 1979 the virus was eliminated across the country.  Wild polio virus cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350 000 cases in more than 125 endemic countries then, to 33 reported cases in 2018.  But until Polio is 100% eradicated, the risk of another epidemic remains.
A public health effort to permanently eliminate all cases of poliomyelitis (polio) infection around the world began in 1988, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Rotary Foundation. These organizations, along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and The Gates Foundation, have spearheaded the campaign through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). Successful eradication of infectious diseases has been achieved twice before, with smallpox and bovine rinderpest.
Eradicating polio in the countries still affected by Polio proves to be difficult. The countries remaining are Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Reasons given are parental refusal and some political interference, in part because the vaccine contains product derived from pigs, something forbidden by Islam.
The eradication of Polio is a world-wide Rotary project. By working alongside the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a number of other organizations, it is hoped that success is close at hand.
This information was compiled from several credible sources