As we head into the festive season, I am delighted to hear the news that Gabon has joined the list of counties to be declared Polio free. The tremendous efforts made by the Gabonese government, in addition to the work that volunteers and UN workers have made, have finally paid off with no reported or suspected cases. Gabon’s Health Minister Denise Mekam’ne Edzidzie has pledged to continue to immunise children and prevent a resurgence of this disease.
We are so close to eradicating Polio from the globe, following the smallpox triumph in 1980. With only four cases reported in Pakistan and Afghanistan this year, we must continue to immunise and kill this terrible disease forever.
We must not forget that although there have been no new cases of Polio in Gabon, many will be left suffering Polio’s legacy in the form of Post Polio Syndrome (PPS), a neurological condition that affects around 80% of Polio survivors. 120,000 Polio survivors in the UK already live with PPS, and face up to eight years waiting for a diagnosis; without an established care pathway, they struggle to access essential treatments and benefits. While there is no cure for PPS, there is much we can do to alleviate and manage the symptoms.
The British Polio Fellowship continues to raise awareness and offer support to those who are affected by PPS. If you want more information, contact the British Polio Fellowship on 0800 043 1935 or visit www.britishpolio.org.uk
Ted Hill MBE
CEO, The British Polio Fellowship