Poliomyelitis is a highly infectious disease that can lead to permanent paralysis or death. It can strike at any age but mainly affects children under 5 years old.
Polio is caused by a virus (wild poliovirus) that is spread through contaminated food and water or close contact with an infected person. It is particularly devastating because it can lead to lifelong paralysis, making it challenging for children to live healthy, normal lives. Around 1 in 200 infected people develop paralysis as a result of the infection.
Transmission is concentrated in areas with overcrowding and poor sanitation and health care. Therefore the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children are the ones most heavily affected. There is no cure, but polio can be prevented by safe and effective vaccines. Because humans are the only known reservoir for poliovirus, it is scientifically feasible to rid the world of the disease. (WHO)
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a major public-private partnership led by national governments and spearheaded by four organizations: the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF. It is on the verge of achieving a momentous goal: to completely rid the world of polio so that no child will ever again know the crippling effects of this preventable disease. (Global Polio Eradication Initiative, WHO)