Thanks to a massive vaccination program that has been going on for decades, polio infection has now been eradicated from the African continent.
Forty-six African presidents, WHO and many more had reason to celebrate when the news was released .
According to Dr. Matshidiso Moeti at the World Health Organization, it has saved a total of 1.8 million children from becoming disabled during the years that the program has been running. In the past, 75,000 African children were disabled each year. 75,000 - every year.
The worldwide program Global Polio Eradication Initiative was started in 1988, with the aim of eradicating polio completely. The aim was set for the year 2000. It took longer than that, but the work on the African continent shows that it is possible. (A few countries remain - Afghanistan and Pakistan.)
The road has not been straight. When it was thought that the project was almost stalled, something came up that required new plans and ways to implement the program.
According to Pascal Mkande, coordinator at the WHO, the polio program is unique in its way of taking advantage of data and its innovative way of getting around all obstacles along the way. Local, national, regional and global organizations have collaborated - in addition to thousands of volunteers and, of course, people who have survived the disease.
For example, it was difficult to reach war zones. But when the military announced that an area was safe, vaccination initiatives were launched there within 48 hours. Over eight hundred thousand children were vaccinated in such situations.
Now we can rejoice in today's news. It hopefully gives energy to the work that remains.
Addition: Sweden's last outbreak took place in 1953; The United States eradicated polio as late as 1979. (Read Member of Parliament Barbro Westerholm's experience of when polio spread at Landsort in the 1940s here .)
Let the future come faster!