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PAKISTAN. Peshawar. December 21, 2016. A soldier guards a polio vaccination team administering polio vaccination to children during a three-day countrywide vaccination campaign. Though new polio cases dropped to a nine-year low in 2016, attacks by Islamist militants against health workers and police guarding them remained a challenge for a UN-funded vaccination campaign.

Photograph: Arshad Arbab/EPA

An Afghan health worker administers the polio vaccine to a child during a vaccination campaign on the outskirts of Jalalabad on December 13, 2016. Polio, once a worldwide scourge, is endemic in just three countries now - Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

NOORULLAH SHIRZADA / AFP

Polio is on its last legs.

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.

Next Year Could Mark The End Of Polio

Graphic: Jason Beaubien and Alyson Hurt/NPR

the guy who started the whole “vaccines cause autism” thing faked statistics, got caught, and lost his medical license forever because he was lying to millions of people to make money off his own version of “vaccines” that were just more expensive.

so there’s literally no argument for why you wouldn’t vaccinate your children.

I mean unless you are just really into collecting vintage diseases, in which case: Polio is rapidly making a comeback (after being completely, 100% eradicated from the U.S. since 1979) because of you idiots so I guess you got what you wanted. Congrats.

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.

10

Polio Week at site in Tsarasambo, Madagascar has been my favorite week as a Peace Corps Volunteer so far. I hiked for miles all over with very hard working Community Health Workers to distribute the polio vaccine to every child in the area. We crossed little bamboo bridges over deep and muddy rice fields. We climbed up and down hills and even took a few canoes on the river to get from one little village to the next. 

Everyone I met along the way was so wonderful and kind. I tried to calm scared kids as a trained worker dropped the edible vaccine into their mouths. I played with snot covered kids as their parents prepared coffee for us. Then we would sit in the shade drinking coffee and coconut water, chatting away in Malagasy. I even convinced some people to try mixing coconut water and coffee. They thought it was crazy, but if Starbucks does it, it must be cool!

As the week continued, smiling villagers gave me odd fruits and coconuts as gifts. The coconuts were kind of heavy and hard to carry back while walking up and down muddy hills, but like I say “don’t look a gift coconut in the nuts.” Generally people who live here have to carry much heavier things, and usually the roads are rougher to walk on and slippery because of rain, so I can’t complain! Even when people here have what seems like so little, they are always willing to open their homes to strangers and to share and give. It’s a wonderful thing. 

I met a woman who was cleaning fish from nets made of leaves and I helped pull out a few prawns. I also watched as another woman skinned cinnamon off of the branches it grows on so she could leave it in the sun to dry. There were men going around from village to village fumigating the huts to kill mosquitoes and prevent Malaria. We would stop to chat along the way when we weren’t suffocating from the fumes! 

The scenery surrounding my site is incredible -rolling hills, banana trees, palm trees, cows milling everywhere, rice fields spanning as far as the eye can see, and a calm river highway right alongside the trails. I never knew what was coming next (I never do in Madagascar), but I just went with the flow and followed along. It was a beautiful adventure.   

The exercise and exploring was nice, but the best part by far was spending time with so many Malagasy people whom I will be working with as I continue to do health projects in their villages during my service. 

Sambatra. (Malagasy for “#blessed”).