World Polio Day, observed on October 24th, is a global effort to raise awareness about the crippling disease known as polio and the ongoing efforts to eradicate it. This day commemorates the birth of Jonas Salk, the virologist who developed the first polio vaccine. We will explore the date, history, and significance of World Polio Day, along with an overview of what polio is and why it's essential to continue the fight against it.

World Polio Day 2023 Date and History

World Polio Day falls on October 24th each year, honouring the birthday of Dr Jonas Salk, who was born on this day in 1914. Dr. Salk's pioneering work in developing the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) marked a significant breakthrough in the fight against polio. The vaccine, introduced in the 1950s, led to a dramatic reduction in polio cases worldwide.

What is Polio?

Polio, short for poliomyelitis, is a highly contagious viral disease caused by the poliovirus. It primarily affects children under the age of five. The virus spreads through primarily the faeces and sneeze droplets of an infected person.

Polio can lead to varying degrees of paralysis, from mild muscle weakness to complete paralysis. In severe cases, it can lead to death. There is no cure for polio, but it can be prevented through vaccination.

Importance of World Polio Day 2023

  • Raising Awareness: It provides a platform to educate the public about the dangers of polio, its prevention through vaccination, and the progress made in eradicating the disease.
  • Mobilizing Resources: The day encourages individuals, governments, and organizations to contribute resources and support vaccination campaigns in areas where polio remains endemic.
  • Celebrating Progress: World Polio Day is an occasion to celebrate the significant achievements in the global fight against polio. In recent decades, the number of polio cases has drastically reduced.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is a partnership of various organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. GPEI is dedicated to eradicating polio by conducting vaccination campaigns, strengthening healthcare systems, and conducting surveillance to detect and respond to polio outbreaks.

World Polio Day serves as a reminder of the importance of immunization and the continued commitment to a world where no child has to suffer from this crippling disease. It's an opportunity to celebrate the progress made and reinvigorate the global effort to achieve a polio-free planet.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Oct 22, 2023 03:45 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website