There is cause to celebrate that Africa is now on track, one year polio free and hopefully more to come until the infectious disease will be forever eradicated. According to the United Nations (UN), the world is now edging closer to seeing the complete elimination of a dangerous virus that has crippled the lives of many children.
Paralytic poliomyelitis, more simply known as polio, is a virus based disease that commonly and quickly spreads among young children, especially in unsanitary conditions caused by wars or poverty. It attacks by causing the initial symptoms of fever and pain in the limbs, developing into an irreversible but completely preventable complete paralysis.
It is one of the most tragic conditions affecting young children that can be stopped through a simple vaccine, but has no cure if the virus has already set in. While commonly affecting the United States and the Western Hemisphere between the 1940s and 1950s, immunization campaigns has successfully put an end to it in developed countries.
However, Africa has still been struggling with the disease, along with countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, where 34 cases have been discovered in 2015. However, the African continent can now rejoice that they have reached the one year mark since the last reported case of polio, and currently on their way to being free of the tragic disease.
The last reported case was on August 11th, 2014 in Somalia, which now leaves only three other countries still fighting off the highly infectious virus that irreparably affects the lives of children. Due to the persistent vaccination campaigns by UNICEF and other organizations, Africa is nearly free and humanity might be reaching a second high point in history where a dangerous, infectious disease is eradicated. Just like smallpox, polio might soon see its end.
However, while the UNICEF calls the one year mark as an “extraordinary achievement”, it’s not the end just yet. Campaigns must not yet release the pressure placed on the disease and continue with their activity in order to prevent its return, as health officials must wait two years before declaring the continent polio-free.
It’s an important step toward eradicating the disease and making sure developing countries will no longer suffer from its cruel effects on young children.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), if the world will be completely rid of the virus based disease, the savings for the next 20 years will be of around $50 billion. But if the campaigns fail by relaxing with the good news, the world could be facing 200,000 new cases in just the next 10 years. So, it’s not a time to stop, but we’re close.
Image source: blogs.unicef.org