I am delighted to hear the news that Pakistan has begun its first nationwide vaccination drive. Around 250,000 campaigners aimed to reach 37 million children under five, in just four days. It is a tremendous effort made by the Pakistani government, in addition to the already great efforts made by the volunteers and UN workers with these vaccination campaigns.
Polio is so close to being the second human disease to be eradicated globally, after the amazing smallpox total eradication triumph back in 1980. These are human achievements that cannot be overestimated. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three counties left where Polio is still a breeding ground this campaign is certainly a positive step forward.
Once Polio has been eradicated, it is also worth considering that up to 40,000,000 people worldwide may be left with the legacy of Post Polio Syndrome (PPS), a neurological condition that affects around 80% of Polio survivors. 120,000 Polio survivors in Britain already live with PPS, and face up to six 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.
Ted Hill MBE
CEO, The British Polio Fellowship