It is with great regret I read about a new confirmed case of Polio in Kenya. Just as we seem on the brink of eradication, another case comes along to dash our hopes, but we must not let this beat us. Kenya has continued with routine immunisation, instrumental in no new reported cases since 2013, but we know from bitter experience Polio will not be beaten so easily. At least ten million Kenyan children have been vaccinated over the past four years, but it has not proved enough to eradicate the virus once and for all.
At two and a half years old, Polio left me paralysed. As a result, I suffered stigma and prejudice, but I have been lucky enough to enjoy a paralympic career. I am keen to ensure other children don’t experience the terrible things I did as a Kenyan Polio survivor and that the onset of Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) does not stop them living fulfilling lives.
Members of The British Polio Fellowship have proved Polio and PPS are no bar to making a significant contribution to society, given access to the support needed to live independent lives. Rotary is committed to the eradication of Polio and together with our members, we continue to support them and eradication efforts via the End Polio Now campaign. A strengthening of monitoring and immunisation is what Kenya needs now and we of all organisations are desperate to see them succeed. In the UK, what we need is an end to the six year wait for a diagnosis of PPS faced by the people we represent. If you are one of the 120,000 people in the UK with PPS, our support can be accessed by visiting www.britishpolio.org.uk or call 0800 043 1935.
Anne Wafula-Strike MBE
Ambassador, The British Polio Fellowship