The disease that once paralyzed hundreds of thousands of kids a year around the globe is now down to just a few dozen cases this year. “We are aiming to halt all transmission of wild polio virus next year,” says Peter Crowley, the head of UNICEF’s global efforts against polio.
If polio is stopped, it will be only the second human disease to be eliminated. Smallpox was the first — the last case was in 1977.
There’s reason to be optimistic that this gigantic feat of public health is within humanity’s grasp. The World Health Organization says polio transmission has stopped for the first time ever in Africa. Last month, Africa’s last bastion of polio — Nigeria — celebrated going an entire year without recording any new cases.
Though often used as a synonym of “isolation” (where sick people are kept from well people), quarantine is technically defined as “to separate those suspected of exposure to an illness to see if they become ill” - hence the quarantine laws for livestock and pets when moving between countries, especially countries where rabies or hoof-and-mouth disease isn’t endemic.
These signs were posted on houses and farms that had a patient (and, as such, exposed family or herd members) infected with, from top to bottom, hoof-and-mouth disease, scarlet fever, diphtheria, smallpox, and poliomyelitis.
Take a moment to ponder this GIF from the Council on Foreign Relations. Every dot represents an outbreak of preventable disease–and preventable suffering. This is why immunizations are so important for children and for their communities. #Vaccineswork.
By 1988, polio had disappeared from the US, UK, Australia and much of Europe but remained prevalent in more than 125 countries. The same year, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution to eradicate the disease completely by the year 2000.
In 2015, polio remains endemic in only two countries - Pakistan and Afghanistan. No new cases have been reported in Africa for the past year.
Things You Don’t Expect To See On A Monday Morning: Bill Gates in a Barcelona jersey raising awareness for World Polio Day
Today, the 24th of October, is World Polio Day, a day meant to raise awareness for the life-altering disease that is close to being eradicated entirely. The FC Barcelona marketing department has been putting in the extra hours, creating the More Than A Goal campaign in association with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help end Polio forever. Seriously though, Barça has been setting the bar when it comes to creating connections with global powerhouses. First the Dalai Lama, then Barack Obama and now Bill Gates? Is it even possible to go bigger than those three?
Anyway, be sure to spread #MoreThanAGoal and #WorldPolioDay on twitter and beyond. Regardless of who you support, we all want to end this.