The polio vaccine has been hugely successful. For this year there were only 170 cases reported compared to 467 last year. The vaccine is administered orally and only a few doses will protect children for life. Although the cost is rather low, it takes a tremendous effort and organisation in order to get it where it is most needed. Today, only three countries remain where the polio virus still makes victims, namely Aghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. The challenge to administer vaccines to every child are huge and the environment is hostile.
The Polio Eradication Effort strives to protect children from this crippling disease. The benefits are tenfold but on top of the list is the longterm economic impact with healthcare savings estimated between 40-50 billion US$ in the next 20 years. And yet, Rotary International's slogan of their "End Polio Now" campaign states: "We are this close" indicating that we are not near the total eradication of the polio virus. More budget and effort will be needed to one day, free this world from polio, for everyone, forever.
Tomorrow is World Polio Day. The 24th of October has been chosen to commemorate the month in which Jonas Salk was born. Jonas Salk was the leader of the team that invented the first polio vaccine in 1955.