DON’T FORGET YOUR VACCINATIONS WHEN YOU TRAVEL, SAYS BRITISH POLIO FELLOWSHIP
17 March 2011 – The release of critically acclaimed, award winning film BENDA BILILI!, about a group of Congolese street musicians, serves as a stark reminder to the devastating scars left by Polio and the threat still posed by the virus in the UK, says the British Polio Fellowship, a charity dedicated to the support of those living with the effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS).
The film tells the inspiring real-life story of Congolese street musicians, collectively named STAFF BENDA BILILI, which translated means ‘look beyond appearances’, whose members developed paraplegia after contracting Polio as children. Shunned from society, the group goes on an extraordinary journey to become an international music sensation against all odds.
John Hooper, CEO of the British Polio Fellowship, commented on the themes raised in the film: “Initiatives for worldwide vaccination against Polio are making great progress, but in many countries the disease is still prevalent. With increasing numbers of UK citizens, in particular from ethnic backgrounds, visiting countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa where Polio levels may still be very high, people must be aware of the danger of contracting the virus if they have not been vaccinated.
“The Democratic Republic of Congo, where the band originated, has battled to eradicate Polio for many years, but recently a number of new cases were reported, meaning transmission of the disease has re-established. Whenever going abroad, people should discuss what vaccinations are required for certain countries in order to travel safely.”
Polio is a highly infectious disease that invades the nervous system, and can cause paralysis in a matter of hours. In later life, up to 80 per cent of those who contracted Polio develop further symptoms like increasing weakness, fatigue and pain in previously affected or unaffected muscles, a general reduction in stamina, breathing, sleeping and/or swallowing problems and cold intolerance, known as Post Polio Syndrome.
John continued: “Whilst the eradication of Polio is vital, it is important to remember those who don’t receive immunisation, and require further support to help them live independent, integrated lives after Polio.
“In the UK, people who had Polio can access specialised orthotics devices, and many well trained healthcare professionals, which is not the case in most of the countries that are still working to eradicate the disease. The members of STAFF BENDA BILILI were resilient and resourceful, fashioning their own unique tricycles to enable them to be mobile and survive. Beyond eradication, we must remember the legacy left by Polio and continue to support those dealing with the terrible aftermath.”
About the British Polio Fellowship A Registered charity in England and Wales 1108335, and in Scotland – SCO38863
The British Polio Fellowship seeks to empower and support all people in the UK living with the effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome by:
actively campaigning in support of their rights and needs and those of their carers.
providing information, advocacy, welfare and support to enable people to live full independent and integrated lives and being the first resource on Polio and Post Polio Syndrome.
supporting a Regional / Branch / Group structure that enables mutual support amongst members to be carried out in a caring and inclusive environment.
raising the profile of The British Polio Fellowship to enhance its effectiveness and to seek out all those who may benefit from our services.
developing worldwide alliances with other Polio and Post Polio groups for the mutual benefit of all its members.
The British Polio Fellowship is a charitable organisation that does not receive any government funding. It relies entirely on membership fees, donations and funding activities to continue providing these services.
Membership of the British Polio Fellowship is only £25.00 for life. Member benefits include a free support and information helpline, holiday, heating and welfare grants, a bi-monthly magazine the bulletin, and a network of Branches and Groups for support and social contacts.
Post Polio Syndrome is classified (G14) by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a disease of the central nervous system that is “an irreversible and incurable clinical situation in relation to the progressive dysfunction of the motor unit.”
To watch a video taken at the Gala screening this week, follow this link:
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