Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: Polio Must Go

Category: Child Care


Thanks to the World Health Organization and Rotary International, polio may be wiped out by the year 2000. We still have many cases in certain parts of the world, unfortunately, including most of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East. The good news is that 134 countries reported no cases of polio in 1992. Still there were a total of 120,000 cases of polio world wide. That is down from 600,000 cases in 1985.

Even developed nations like the United States which have had no polio for several years must continue to be on guard because almost 50% of our children under age 2 in many United States cities are not fully immunized against polio. These un-immunized children are at risk for a case brought into the United States through immigration. Until all countries are free of polio, no country is totally safe.

The Netherlands experienced a recent polio outbreak in 1992 where over 60 people contracted the disease. It came into the country from an immigrant in southern India.

What are the benefits of wiping out polio world wide? Besides the obvious benefit of no more patients suffering this dread disease there will also be great financial benefits. Eventually the polio immunization may be stopped saving lots of money and time. Second there will be a great reduction in needless death, illness and long term suffering from this disease. Third, primary health care will be strengthened through better preventive health services. We must continue to spend the money, the time and the energy to fight to wipe out polio in these third world countries so that we can all be polio free by the year 2000 or shortly after that. When you see a Rotarian, commend them for their work with the World Health Organization on this worthy project.