October 24 is also known as the World Polio Day (WPD), which is marked to highlight the global efforts toward a polio-free world. The day also honors the contributions of those on the frontlines in the fight to eradicate the polio virus from every corner of the globe.
The day also encourages a widespread use of safe and effective vaccines to curb the poliomyelitis, commonly known as polio. It is expected to become the second human disease ever to be eradicated after smallpox.
According to the World Health Organisation, polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350,000 cases to 22 reported cases in 2017. This drastic reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease. In 2020, only three countries in the world have reported the transmission of polio, which are Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
WPD celebrates this progress and the people, volunteers, and local health workers, who make it possible by getting their own children vaccinated. It also honors the people working to reach every last child until no child’s future is threatened by the crippling impact of this disease.
Poliomyelitis is a highly infectious viral disease that mostly affects children under the age of five. It is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route. It can also be transmitted less frequently by a common source like contaminated water or food. The virus then multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and cause paralysis.
A resolution was adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1988 for the worldwide eradication of polio under which the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched. Spearheaded by national governments, the WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, and even the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance became an essential part of it in later years.
The poliovirus has three strains (type 1, type 2 and type 3), wild poliovirus type 2 was eradicated in 1999 and no further case of wild poliovirus type 3 has been found since it was last reported in Nigeria in November 2012. Both type 2 and type 3 strains have officially been declared as globally eradicated.
The WPD was initiated by the Rotary Foundation nearly a decade ago with an aim of complete eradication of Polio virus from all the parts of the world. Rotary club is a partner in the Global Polio eradication Program with organizations like- World Health Organization, Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation and U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched by the Rotary International and World Health Organization in 1988, when there were nearly 350000 cases of polio in 125 countries.
Though, till 2013 many of the countries were declared polio free, still countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan were witnessing rare occurrence of the disease and there was still a constant threat of the disease to reappear in any part of the world. Therefore, a need to celebrate World Polio Day was felt, to completely eradicate Polio virus globally through general awareness for vaccination, prevention and raising funds for different programs.
Why Is World Polio Day Celebrated?
On this day, organisations around the world, such as the Rotary International, WHO, and so on, celebrate the individuals and organisations involved in the global fight against polio and their efforts to completely eradicate the virus. Along with this celebratory note, it also seeks to spread awareness to one and all, about the importance of curbing the virus and any potential outbreaks, as well as taking the efforts to raise funds to achieve this objective.
How Is World Polio Day Celebrated Across the World?
On this day, around the world, global organisations such as the Rotary International and other similar clubs and organisations host several events and fund-raisers, with an objective to raise awareness about polio. Events can be of various types, from rallies and walks to organising competitions in schools and clubs. It also goes to show that in the global fight to end polio, no member is too small to contribute!
World Polio Day Greeting Cards
World Polio Day Themes
Themes of an occasion may serve various purposes. Every year the WPD is celebrated with a new theme, specifying its objective as well as inspiring millions who are committed to the cause. Themes like mentioned below also provide an objective or target to be achieved or mark the beginning of a new step towards the goal.
- 2021: Stories of Progress: Past and Present
- 2020: A win against polio is a win for global health
- 2019: Stories of Progress: Past and Present for World Polio Day
- 2018: End Polio Now
- 2017: A celebration of the unsung heroes of Polio eradication
- 2016: End Polio Now: Make History Today
- 2015: End Polio Now: Make History Today
World Polio Day Facebook Covers
Some Important Facts About Polio
That polio is a deadly disease is well-understood. But these facts should help you understand the disease further and make you aware of the importance of polio eradication day.
- Polio spreads mainly through infected faeces, contaminated water (due to infected human waste), and can even spread from person to person through a cough or sneeze.
- While a person of any age can fall prey to the disease, it mainly affects people with compromised immune systems, pregnant women, and children under the age of 5.
- There are two basic patterns of the disease – the first type is a minor illness, called abortive poliomyelitis, which doesn’t affect the central nervous system (CNS). The second type is more critical, as it directly affects the CNS and may be paralytic or non-paralytic. In about 95% of the cases, the disease doesn’t show any symptoms.
- Post-polio syndrome is also a part of the disease, whereby in some cases, polio survivors relapse after years of recovery.
- In the case of those afflicted by paralysis, 5 to 10% of patients die if their breathing muscles also become immobilized.
- Polio doesn’t have any cure, which is why prevention through vaccines is absolutely important, and babies need to be provided the same as per schedule. A single child being infected can put kids in all countries of the world at risk.
- As of 2020, the Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication has declared that the wild poliovirus type 3 is globally eradicated.
Since polio has no cure, there is no other way to stop its spread than to immunize your baby at the earliest possible. So ensure that you protect your baby’s life by providing him the vaccination on time, and in turn, do your part in reducing the transmission of this deadly virus as well!