Dr. Baker returns Sept. 5. He welcomes guest writers Patty and Mikayla Thompson, supporters of the Rotary International End Polio Now campaign. Here is their second story, by Mikayla Thompson:
On Monday, I wrote about my friends’ surprise that polio is still crippling and killing people. Most Americans don’t know much about polio, these days, but there is an easy way to remember the final fronts in defeating this worldwide disease: P.A.I.N. Simply remember the continuing PAIN of polio: The virus still is infecting people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria. When Rotary began its campaign in 1988, more than 350,000 children were infected each year. In 2009, fewer than 1,700 new cases were reported. They were concentrated in these countries we can remember through: PAIN.
Those countries are far away, but if polio is allowed to spread, the virus could circle the world again. That’s why the United Nations health agency, just a few days ago, praised the way Europe is continuing to hold the line against polio. We are all a part of this challenge! Here are a few facts people should know:
Pakistan and Afghanistan: The Rotary website to “Learn More” points out that polio is hardest to end in countries where there is armed conflict and geographic isolation, which are the biggest problems in these two countries. Of the four PAIN countries, Pakistan still is reporting the most cases. In June, there were 69 new cases. China shares a border with Pakistan and is helping by providing funds to end polio in Pakistan. There is armed conflict in Pakistan, but open warfare continues to rage in Afghanistan, making it difficult to run an effective end-polio campaign across that country. As of June, 12 new cases were reported in Afghanistan.
India: Even though India is the most populated country in the world, only one case was reported in June. Polio is almost gone in India, but every single child must be vaccinated so it doesn’t come back. That’s a huge challenge, because there are so many kids to reach in India!
Nigeria: Armed conflict also is big problem in Nigeria. Rotary actually negotiated a cease-fire with one armed group to stop fighting for two days so health-care workers could get in, vaccinate the children, and get out. Nigeria also is in the news right now for piracy, where that problem is almost as bad as it is in Somalia. Ending polio in Nigeria is a big challenge. In June, 23 cases of polio were reported in Nigeria.
Do you have friends or relatives in these four countries?
Are you concerned about these major public health challenges?
How can we spreading word about this push to relieve P.A.I.N.?
Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.