How India Eradicated POLIO and Why It’s Important to You and Me

Posted April 14, 2014 by jimhigley

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Something incredible happened last month in India. And I hope you’ll take 60 seconds to learn about it.

India was certified as being polio free  – after three consecutive years of zero reported cases in the entire country.

That message merits being repeated! India has had zero reported cases of polio in last three years and as a result, they have eradicated the disease from their country! (In the 1980s, there were 150,000 annual cases of polio in India!)

Here’s a few more facts to make that accomplishment even more impressive:

3 OBSTACLES TO OVERCOME

  • Scale: 172 million children had to be vaccinated twice a year. How many kids is that? Well, only seven countries on the planet have a total population exceeding 172 million!
  • Malnourishment: It’s dramatically harder for malnourished kids to see benefits from vaccines and childhood malnourishment is at epidemic levels in India.
  • Diarrhea: Enteric diseases are widespread in India which creates an enormous challenge because kids can’t get the benefit of oral vaccines when it’s flushed out of their body quickly.

HOW DID INDIA DO IT?

Simply put: The joint efforts between Rotary and its partners (and their nearly 30 year commitment to eradicate polio worldwide) and the Indian government made this happen. Period.

Twice each year, the Indian government organizes (with the help of Rotary, WHO, and UNICEF) an annual National Immunization Day. On each of those days all 172 million children receive the polio vaccine. This massive project – involving an army of volunteers from around the world – includes community “immunization booths”, mobile units and booths strategically located in train stations.

THE BIG PICTURE

Polio is a viral disease that affects nerves and can lead to partial or full paralysis. For nearly 30 years, and after immunizing more than 2 billion children against polio, Rotary and its partners are on the verge of wiping polio off the planet. When they began the fight in 1985, polio affected 350,000 people – mostly children – in 125 countries every year. Since then, however, polio has been reduced by 99 percent.

Worldwide cases are now in the hundreds and there are only three countries where polio has never been stopped.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Learn more. Donate. Be a part of the World’s Biggest Commercial (seriously) by visiting EndPolio.org.

Wasn’t that a positive and informative 60 seconds? If you want more great news, here’s a great 150 second video!