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By Taryn Russell In the hot and dusty city of Agra, India, schoolchildren march down the streets holding signs letting everyone in the neighborhood know that today is immunization day. This is the day...
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In Nigeria last week, an outbreak of polio prompted UNICEF to launch a massive immunization campaign to reach 41 million children. The ongoing conflict there due to the Boko Haram insurgency has already displaced 2.6 million people and left more than four million people in north-east Nigeria facing a humanitarian crisis. Four hundred thousand children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year.
I became a father in 2013, four months after leaving Pakistan where I was working with UNICEF to support the polio eradication program. As the two remaining polio-endemic countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the final pieces of the eradication puzzle.
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In February 2015, a poll by the Angus Reid Institute revealed that two-thirds of Canadians believe that children should not be allowed to attend school or daycare if their immunizations are not fully up to date. Interestingly, the country is divided.
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In 1934 and 1935, two polio vaccines were prematurely employed in large-scale trials with disastrous results. The vaccines, given to 17,000 children in Canada and the U.S., killed six and paralyzed a dozen others, the deaths and paralyses typically involving paralysis in the inoculated arm rather than in the legs, as was more normal. So traumatic was this experience -- to both the public and the research establishment -- that it would take another two decades before another polio vaccine would be brought to market.
Whatever the reasons for this epidemic, there are a few signs of hope. Like the common cold and flu, infection is entirely preventable by washing the hands with soap and water as well as regularly disinfecting surfaces. Should an infection occur, there is still only a small chance it could get worse;
Afternoon of a Faun, a documentary by Nancy Buriski, tells the incredible story of Tanaquil "Tanny" Le Clercq, a world-renowned ballerina who was struck down at the height of her career by polio. The good news is that earlier this year, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative launched a plan to achieve a polio-free world by 2018.
I stand behind the women around the globe who are leading the charge against polio and working relentlessly to achieve a polio-free world. As mothers and women from local communities unite in the fight against the disease, we too must take action to protect the lives of children, no matter where they live.
It used to be that modern medicine was a thing to be venerated, a doctor's words regarded like golden nectar of wisdom. Now, not so much. Once upon a time vaccinations were seen as miracles in a needle, warding off potentially life-threatening illnesses. In the States, the unvaccinating movement has turned epidemic, with as many as one in 10 parents refusing to vaccinate their children.
Partners in the effort to finally rid the world of polio are taking another step today, launching an emergency action plan strategists hope will propel the long overdue program across the finish line....