WORLD POLIO DAY: History, Significance, Theme and more

World Polio Day is observed every year on 24 October.


What is polio?

Polio (Poliomyelitis), is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person to person and can infect a person's spinal cord, causing paralysis.
Polio is a highly contagious disease, caused by poliovirus that attacks the nervous system. As per WHO (World Health Organization) level of this disease is so high that 1 in 200 infected people face the risk of permanent paralysis. Therefore, the eradication of polio was considered important on a global scale. This is why World Polio Day is an important day which is observed to raise awareness for the polio vaccination to eradication polio.


World Polio Day 2022: Theme

The theme for World Polio Day 2022 is: World Polio Day 2022 and beyond: A healthier future for mothers and children.

Themes of past years for World Polio Day

In the past few years, the themes of this day have been some of the following:
A Celebration of the Unsung Heroes of Polio Eradication
End Polio Now: Make History Today
I Want to End Polio - Join Me

World Polio Day: Important Things About Polio

  • Polio is a deadly disease and these facts should help you understand the disease and make you aware of the importance of polio eradication day.
  • Transmission of Polio: Polio spreads mainly through infected faeces, contaminated water , cough or sneeze.
  • Age Group: While a person of any age get infected to the disease, it mainly affects people with weak immune system, pregnant women, and children under the age of 5.
  • Types of Polio: There are two basic types of the disease - the first type is a minor illness, called abortive poliomyelitis, which doesn't affect the central nervous system (CNS). The second type is more dangerous, it directly affects the central nervous system and may be paralytic or non-paralytic.
  • In about 95% of the cases, the polio disease doesn't show any symptoms.
  • Post-polio syndrome: It is also a part of the disease. In some cases, polio survivors relapse after years of recovery.
  • In the case of those affected by paralysis, 5 to 10% of patients die if their breathing muscles also become immobilised.
  • Prevention: Polio doesn't have any cure that is why prevention through vaccines is very important.
  • Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication has declared that the wild poliovirus type 3 is globally eradicated.

World Polio Day: Timeline

1970s- Immunization Efforts In Developing countries-As a result of surveys, vaccines are being introduced in several developing countries to help control polio.
1985- Rotary International launches a global effort to vaccinate children against polio.
1988- Global Polio Eradication Initiative (Public-private partnership)
2019- Polio Type 3 Eradicated

World Polio Day: History

1894: Polio outbreak occurred in Vermont, United States.
1905: Ivar Wickman, a Swedish physician, identified polio as a contagious disease.
1908: Physicians Erwin Popper and Karl Landsteiner of Vienna discovered that a virus causes polio.
1916: A major outbreak killed 2,000 people in New York and 6,000 across the United States.
1960: The US government licensed the oral polio vaccine developed by Dr Albert Sabin.
1979: Rotary International began its fight against polio. A multi-year project was launched to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines.
1985: Rotary International launched PolioPlus, an internationally coordinated private-sector support of a public health initiative. It also officiates World Polio Day.
2000: A record 550 million children (almost 10% of the world's population) were administered the oral polio vaccine.
2003: The Rotary Foundation raised $119 million in a 12-month campaign. Six countries remained polio-endemic: Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Niger, Nigeria, and Pakistan
2006: Four countries that remain polio-endemic: Afghanistan, Nigeria, India and Pakistan
2012: India records zero cases for one year and is removed from the endemic list.
2014: India is declared polio-free by WHO.
2020: Africa and its nearby regions are declared polio-free by WHO.


Polio Day In India

  • India is still one of the countries that are still affected by the polio virus. So, the government of India launched National Polio Day in the country to declare a nationwide polio eradication program. India became polio-free in January 2014 after reporting zero cases for three years. The last wild poliovirus case was reported in West Bengal on 13 January 2011.
  • Polio Sub-National Immunization Day will be conducted from19 June 2022 in 11 states and UTs. During this Polio campaign, around 3.9 crore children less than 5 years of age are targeted to be given polio drops through booth, house-to-house, mobile and transit teams.
  • In world, polio is still endemic in two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • State Governments and organizations like WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International and other partners have played a major role not only in polio eradication but also in improving routine immunization initiatives.

Why is World Polio Day celebrated?

  • On World Polio Day, organisations around the world, such as the Rotary International, WHO, UNICEF etc. celebrate the individuals and organisations involved in the global fight against polio virus and their efforts to eradicate the virus.
  • This day seeks to spread awareness to one and all, about the importance of eradicating the virus and any potential outbreaks, as well as taking the efforts to raise funds to achieve this objective.

Is Polio emerging again?

  • Polio is emerging in parts of the world that haven't had cases in decades.
  • September 26, 2022: Polio cases were first reported in Malawi and Mozambique earlier this year, setting off alarm bells around the globe. The wild poliovirus hadn't been detected in either country for 30 years, and the entire African region was certified free of the wild poliovirus in 2020.
  • In March, Israel detected its first case of polio since 1989 in a young boy from Jerusalem.
  • In June, health authorities in the UK detected poliovirus in multiple wastewater samples taken in northeast London.
  • And then in July, the New York State Department of Health reported a polio case in an unvaccinated young man from New York.
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