Eradicating polio worldwide by 2018 is feasible

(VOVworld) – The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 7 poliomyelitis (polio) cases worldwide since the beginning of this year. Polio virus transmission is at its lowest rate in history. The WHO expects to achieve a polio-free world by 2018 or earlier.

Eradicating polio worldwide by 2018 is feasible - ảnh 1

Polio is an acute infection of the nervous system by the polio virus. It can be transmitted from human to human through the digestive tract. The disease usually begins with general symptoms such as fever, headache, and muscle pains and spasms and is sometimes followed by a permanent paralysis of muscles in one or more limbs, the throat, or the chest. In 1980 approximately 350,000 children in 125 countries were killed or paralyzed by polio.

Countries actively responded to a Global Polio Eradication Initiative introduced in 1988, supported by the WHO, Rotary International, and UNICEF. Since then other global campaigns to eradicate polio have been implemented, including an expanded polio vaccination program. The World Health Organization called on all countries to add at least one dose of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) to their regular immunization programs by the end of 2015 and to phase out all oral polio vaccines (OPVs) to avoid side-effects.

Many countries have improved health services for their most vulnerable communities. No cases of polio virus were reported in African countries last year. Since the beginning of this year, only 7 polio cases have been confirmed worldwide. Pakistan and Afghanistan were the last two countries to report child polio infections. Both have suffered prolonged war, poor healthcare, and poor sanitary conditions.

To eradicate polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan will require a coordinated effort to reach unvaccinated children. Michel Zaffran, Director of Polio Eradication at the WHO, says the goal of eradicating polio is within reach. If the effort succeeds, polio will be the second major disease to be eliminated after smallpox.