Features Health

Observing World Polio Day

HEALTH DIALOGUE
OCTOBER 24, 2015, is not only Zambia’s Independence Day, but it is also World Polio Day. This observance was established by the Rotary International movement over a decade ago to commemorate the fight against poliomyelitis. Infection. With the poliomyelitis virus is usually just called polio. About 90 percent of the people infected with polio do not experience any symptoms; the other 10 percent of people infected develop fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, neck stiffness and pain in the limbs and paralysis which is, a lot of times, permanent. A small percentage of people infected with polio develop muscle weakness, most commonly in the legs, but can also be experienced in the head, neck and diaphragm. Not all people recover completely from polio infection, polio has the ability to deform and cripple some sufferers, about two to five percent of children and fifteen to thirty percent of adults die from polio infection.
The Poliomyelitis is highly infectious and is usually spread from person to person mainly through the faecal-oral route. The virus multiplies in the intestine where it then moves into the nervous system where it causes damage leading to muscle weakness and paralysis.
The incidence of polio has decreased by 90 percent since 1988. This reduction is due a global effort to eradicate polio. While there is no cure for polio, there is a vaccine, when given multiple times minimum of three doses, can protect a child for life. According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) spearheaded by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and partners, as long as a child is infected with polio, all other children worldwide run the risk of infection.  August 11, 2015 marked one year since the last reported case of wild polio in the entire African continent, which at the moment leaves only two countries where polio transmission has never been interrupted; Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The GPEI is aiming for a polio-free world by 2018.
The last case of indigenous Polio in Zambia was in 1995, but in 2001 some refugees in Western Zambia were identified with polio that was acquired outside of Zambia indicating that the country is still at risk of Polio infection.
Zambia’s immunisation algorithm includes four doses of the oral poliovirus vaccine, which protects the child for life. With all the strides that have been made in the struggle to eradicate Polio, it would be very sad to have to start eliminating it from Africa again, please ensure that your child is fully immunised and together we can eradicate Polio.
For more information on Polio and immunisation email 990health@champ.org.zm

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