World Polio Day

According to WHO, the cases of wild poliovirus have decreased by over 99.9% since 1980, due to the vaccination efforts made around the world. World Polio Day is celebrated every year on October 24 to raise awareness for polio vaccination and eradication of polio, and also to call on countries to stay vigilant in their fight against the disease. In this article, we will read about the importance of the day and learn about the disease.

As UPSC surprises aspirants with questions linked with what usually is assumed to be trivia; it is advisable that one must scroll through the facts about World Polio Day to get the basic information and also learn about Polio and its causes. Polio can be an important topic from the perspective of UPSC Prelims

List of Current Affairs Articles for UPSC

Facts about World Polio Day for UPSC Exam

Read the below-mentioned facts about World Polio Day; and aid your IAS Exam preparation along with other competitive exams’ preparation. 

Observed on  24 October, to commemorate the birthday of Jonas Salk.
Theme of 2021 Delivering on a Promise
Organisation monitoring the Disease Control Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), led by national governments and the World Health Organisation (WHO)
Facts about Status Of Polio
  • India was declared polio-free in January 2014.

As per the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC)

  • Afghanistan and Pakistan are the two countries that are the last stronghold of the wild poliovirus.
  • The African Region was certified as wild poliovirus free in 2020.

The topic can be asked as a Current Affairs Question in IAS Prelims. Visit the attached link to attempt practice quizzes on current affairs.

To read more about the other Important International and National days click on the link. Such days and events become very important for UPSC Prelims. 

Background of the World Polio Day 

World Polio Day is celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of Jonas Salk. He was the first person who led the first team to develop the Inactivated (killed) Polio Vaccine (IPV). against the disease. The day was started by Rotary International, an international service organisation which brings together business, professional, and community leaders in order to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance goodwill, peace, and understanding in the world. Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), led by national governments and the WHO has been taking care to monitor the disease in the last three decades.

About World Polio Day, 2021

The theme for World Polio Day 2021 was “Delivering on a Promise.” The theme was liberating, and it takes a tour of the progress made in polio eradication so far. The continuous efforts made by healthcare workers so far are accepted and acknowledged through this theme. According to the data of the World Health Organisation (WHO) the use of the poliovirus vaccine and the following widespread use of the oral poliovirus, which was developed by Albert Sabin, led to the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988. As per the data collected till 2013 GPEI has reduced polio worldwide by almost 99%.

About Polio

The WHO defines polio or poliomyelitis as “a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children.” It is a crippling and potentially deadly disease that affects the nervous system. Polio may cause disability and also is a life-threatening disease, caused by the poliovirus.

  • Transmission – The virus is transmitted by person-to-person and spread mainly through the faecal-oral route (contaminated water or food). The virus multiplies in the intestine and then invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
  • Symptoms – The virus does not make all people sick. In some people it shows minor symptoms like fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, stiffness in the neck and back, and pain in the arms and legs. In very few cases, the virus causes permanent loss of muscle function (paralysis). It can also prove to be fatal if the muscles used for breathing are paralysed or if there is an infection of the brain.
  • Vaccines – There is no cure of the disease, only immunisation is the cure. Polio vaccine protects children by preparing their bodies to fight the poliovirus. There are two types of vaccines that can prevent polio: 
    • Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV) which is injected in the leg or arm, depending on the patient’s age. It is introduced as an additional dose along with the 3rd dose of DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus) under the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP).
    • Oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) is given orally at birth, then primary three doses are given at 6, 10 and 14 weeks and one booster dose at 16-24 months of age.

Polio in India

  • The last case due to wild poliovirus in the country was detected on 13th January 2011. Therefore India received polio-free certification by the WHO in 2014. This achievement has been achieved by the successful pulse polio campaign in which all children were administered polio drops. 
  • To prevent the virus from coming to India, the government since March 2014, has made the Oral Polio Vaccination (OPV) mandatory for those travelling between India and polio-affected countries, such as Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Syria and Cameroon.

To know more about Important Headquarters of International Organisations, visit the linked article.

Recent Outbreaks Of Polio

  • According to CDC Afghanistan and Pakistan are the two countries that are the last stronghold of the wild poliovirus. In 2020 Pakistan had seen an increase in the number of wild poliovirus cases.
  • In 2019, polio outbreaks were recorded in Ghana, Myanmar, China, Cameroon,  Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Iran. The reported cases were mostly vaccine-derived in which a rare strain of the virus was genetically mutated from the strain in the vaccine.

Polio Eradication Programmes

  • Eradication of a disease means complete and permanent reduction of new cases to zero. That means cases of both wild and vaccine-derived polio infection have to be reduced to zero. A Country declared polio-free only when the wild transmission of all three kinds of Polioviruses has stopped
  • This is maintained through National and Sub National Polio rounds along with sustained high-quality polio surveillance. The target can be achieved through continued measures to prevent the re-establishment of disease transmission.

Significance of the World Polio Day

Since Polio is a waterborne disease, and children affected with this disease face the consequences of losing out mobility and walking abilities for their entire life, we need strict measures and vaccinations from time to time to completely kill the virus from its roots and declare the entire world polio-free. On the perfect occasion of World Polio Day, such stringent measures can be adopted and stringently practised to heal our next generations from polio.

Note: As UPSC 2022 approaches, use BYJU’S free Daily Video Analysis of The Hindu Newspaper to augment your preparation.

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