Today, Monday the 24th of October, marks World Polio Day, a global day to raise awareness and resources for the worldwide effort to eradicate polio.
Polio is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person to person and can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis.
The world-wide effort is trying to draw attention to the opportunity to rid the world of this disease. For much of the developed world, polio is a distant memory. Thankfully long gone are the days of the summertime terrors in Europe and North America of the 1940s and 50s, when children went to bed with what their parents thought was a mild flu only to wake up rubber limbed and burning with a fever. Thousands were paralysed.
There is no cure for polio, but with development of vaccines and routine immunization the goal is now to eradicate this disease for only the second time in history. The World Health Organization declared the world free of smallpox in 1980. Today, polio is endemic in only two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Even in these locations, aggressive vaccination efforts have dropped the number of cases to a handful a year. A modified vaccine now offers hope that eradication is closer than ever.
Rotary International, founded in 1905 in Chicago, has led the worldwide effort to eradicate the disease. Two members of the Rotary Club of Pitlochry, Heartland FM’s own Clive Bridges and Ian Moyes, are encouraging local residents to help.
“As most people in this town will know, Rotary meets at Fisher’s every Tuesday at lunchtime,” Clive explains. “And if anybody would like to hand in a cheque or cash in an envelope… we would be very pleased to take these donations.”
“Let’s work together,” Ian says, “and eradicate polio forever.”
More information on World Polio Day, and how to donate to the ongoing efforts, can be found at www.rotary.org