Leicester East MP Keith Vaz is lending his support to The British Polio Fellowship National Indoor Games, coming to Leicester this weekend (22-24 March). Leicester will be the latest place to benefit from the spirit of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, when The British Polio Fellowship stages its annual National Indoor Games at the Leicester Marriott Hotel, Enderby. For the first time ever, The British Polio Fellowship is opening its doors to the public on Friday (2:00pm – 5:00pm), inviting members of Leicester’s local community, plus health professionals and GPs to come and find out more about Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS).
“Everyone is welcome at the Leicester Games and we are particularly interested in learning the experiences of some of Leicester’s Asian community, who may have fairly recent experience of Polio and its after-effects, from India and Pakistan, for example,” said Ted Hill MBE, CEO of The British Polio Fellowship. “We are absolutely delighted that Keith Vaz MP is lending his support to our efforts to get the message across, and would like to thank him for the interest he has shown in the issues affecting our Members who are living with the devastating after-effects of Polio on a daily basis,” he added.
Keith Vaz MP, said: “Thankfully, new incidences of Polio are a thing of the past in the UK, but Leicester families with historical links to India and Pakistan in particular will know all too well that Polio still leaves a terrible blight on those nations. I applaud the efforts of The British Polio Fellowship in supporting the 120,000 people in the UK with PPS, and wish all the competitors well for a great Games this weekend. I am especially pleased to see that The British Polio Fellowship is looking to engage with Leicester’s Asian community and share their experiences of how Polio affects their extended families. It’s an innovative approach and one which I’m sure will strike a chord with local families in Leicester who have experience of Polio from communities on the sub-continent.” Whilst India was recently removed from the World Health Organisation list of countries having Polio, new cases of Polio are still being reported in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Anyone who may have been affected by the impact of Polio or PPS, either individually or indirectly through friends and family, can call The British Polio Fellowship on 0800 043 1935.
In addition to the general public, health professionals and GPs are also welcome and encouraged to come and meet members of the British Polio Fellowship Team. Health professionals play a crucial role in terms of correct diagnosis, treatments and therapies, and British Polio Fellowship feels more can be done to raise awareness of the condition of PPS to give health professionals the best chance of offering the best care.
Ted Hill added: “It is an opportunity for us to dispel some of the myths about Polio in the UK and explain the history and purpose of our charity. Despite popular misconception, Polio still leaves its trail of devastation on thousands of lives in the UK today. There is a community of some 120,000 people in the UK living with the effects of Polio in the form of PPS, and our role is to offer support, guidance and information to these people and their families and friends to enable them to live as full a life as possible.”
Last year, a survey revealed that despite being as common as Parkinson’s disease, awareness amongst GPs of a fellow neurological condition, PPS is perilously low resulting in a forgotten generation of polio survivors struggling for diagnosis. The survey, undertaken by The British Polio Fellowship, revealed that 69 per cent of GPs rate their own level of knowledge of PPS as low and 42 per cent said they would feel the need to refer a suspected PPS case to a neurologist for diagnosis, an acknowledgment that there needs to be more awareness of the condition across the first line medical community.
“One year on and pretty much nothing has changed,” added Ted Hill. Awareness is still dire and the feedback we get from Members suggests that GPs are still generally in the dark on PPS. The positive news for GPs is that this is a condition for which they can, once armed with the information, create a successful management strategy and positively impact on the patient’s quality of life. We hope GPs and health professionals will take the opportunity to come and learn more when we are in Leicester on Friday 22 March. If we can help even one extra GP or health professional successfully diagnose PPS in the future – when they would perhaps otherwise have not identified the condition – it will have been a worthwhile exercise,” said Ted.