In 2009 India was home to half of the world’s polio cases. They haven’t had a case since January 2011. How did this happen? Global collaboration.
When the international news coming out of India is positive, the media often reduces the whole of the country to yoga, Hinduism, Bollywood, cricket and its “exotic” factor. Likewise, when it’s negative we hear of the gang rapes, overpopulation and poor sanitation. Yet India achieved something historic on January 13, 2014—they celebrated their 3rd year of being polio-free.
Throughout the 1990s, when India’s economy began to grow rapidly, they were still struggling to deal with polio. In fact, there were “polio deformity camps,” places where poor parents would travel for miles to give their polio-stricken kids a chance at having surgery. Polio, even to this day, has no cure and this is particularly frightening because not only is it a debilitating disease that invades the brain and spinal cord to cause paralysis, but also because it can be spread from person-to-person.
India’s new “polio-free” label will forever be held up in the global health community as evidence that disease can be eliminated even under the most challenging circumstances. It was also be held up as perhaps the perfect example of true global collaboration.
Commitments from Rotary, the Indian government, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, other donor governments, and the global community, all came to fruition as India launched a comprehensive polio eradication effort that established a robust health infrastructure to eliminate the disease. Consider this: 2.3 million vaccinators worked to reach 175 million children with the polio vaccine during national immunization days. Though the recent developments to finish the job in India are to be lauded, it should be noted that this effort has been part of a global polio eradication strategy that has, especially financially, been fueled by the US who, since the 1980s, has contributed $2.2 billion in these efforts.
While terrific groups like our friends at Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign are excited about recent developments, they are dedicated to continue their efforts through this two-fold strategy:
(1) To ensure that countries who are polio-free remain polio-free
(2) To eradicate polio in the 3 countries where it is still endemic (Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan)
We here at GMP would like to thank our many readers for the support they showed by sharing our interview with polio survivor Ramesh Ferris and by signing up to participate in The World’s Biggest Commercial. Here’s another campaign we hope you’ll help us rally behind:
Like The Good Men Project on Facebook