Sunday, January 26, 2014

“End of a scourge”

The sub-title reads, “The eradication of polio suggests ways to tackle even deadlier diseases.” That good news appeared recently in The Economist” (18 January).

The anti-polio campaign in India started in 1995, with massive efforts and money poured into millions of doses of vaccine and the services of millions of vaccinators who administered the oral drops. Success arrived in 2011 when the very last case of wild polio virus was announced. India has been polio free since.

This success has provided experience that is now being used in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, where polio still exists. It includes how to get parents to allow their children to be vaccinated and how to reach mobile and hard-to-reach populations. Lessons have also been learned about the advantages of mobile health centers and vaccine campaign monitoring.

These same practices mean India and nations worldwide can now also tackle other deadly diseases, including measles, which according to the article killed over 130,000  children a year globally in 2010, and diarrhea, which is the second main cause of death among children under the age of 5 and results in an estimated 1.5 million deaths per year according to the World Health Organization. The idea, too, is to spread information on hygiene and nutrition in areas of high risk of these preventable diseases.

So, despite the fact that polio has not yet been wiped out totally across the globe, the fight to eradicate it is well on its way and has benefited the world by revealing practical ways of ending other, even deadlier, diseases.

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