Friday, October 19, 2007

Mission: Polio Free Planet Earth

For nearly 6,000 years now, since the time of the Ancient Egyptians, Polio (also known as poliomyelitis or infantile paralysis) has been one of the most dreaded diseases crippling and maiming mostly children, with a frightening randomness. Records on Paranoiac stele show that the disease existed in Egypt more than 3000 years ago. Withered and deformed limbs of Egyptian mummies are an evidence for this. An Egyptian stele (stone slab) dating back to the 18th paranoiac dynasty (16th - 13th centuries B.C.) shows a priest leaning on a staff, his right leg withered and dangling. His foot is in the equines position, which is a typical sign of polio.

Till as late as 1700's, however, existence of polio remained a mystery even in medical science. The first clinical description of polio dates as far back as 1789 when British physician Michael Underwood referred to it as "debility of the lower extremities."

Polio remained the No 1 most notorious diseases in the 20th century till AIDS arrived on the horizon. Even today the crippling virus accounts for nearly 20 million disabled and paralyzed people in six of the world's poorest nations.

A major breakthrough in the fight against Polio came in 1948 when a research group headed by John Enders at the Children's Hospital Boston successfully cultivated the poliovirus in human tissue in the laboratory. This development greatly facilitated vaccine research and ultimately allowed for the development of vaccines against polio. Enders and his colleagues, Thomas H. Weller and Frederick C. Robbins, were awarded Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1954

A turning point in the history of polio came with the introduction of an inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) in 1955. This contained an inactivated or "killed" version of the virus. This vaccine had to be administered by injection. On April 12, 1955, Dr Jonas Salk, developed a vaccine to prevent polio. This was followed by launch of the oral polio vaccine (OPV) by Dr Albert B. Sabin in 1961. Unlike the injectible form, the oral polio vaccine containing a live attenuated, or weakened, version of the virus. This Sabin vaccine had to be given orally.

Another significant landmark in the fight against polio came in 1988, with the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. This initiative was instrumental in curtailing the toll of polio paralysis from an estimated 350,000 cases worldwide to fewer than 500 in 2001. Thanks to the hard work of millions of volunteers, the commitment of governments everywhere and the dedication of international partners, nearly four million people have been spared crippling lifelong disability. This was a sharp contrast from the times when wild polio virus was paralyzing more than 1000 children every day in more than 125 countries across five continents. Today polio is largely confined to Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Niger, Afghanistan and Egypt.

But the battle for a polio free world seems to be far from over. The lethality of Polio can be judged from the fact that even today there is no treatment, anywhere in the world. Polio is caused by poliovirus. Till date there is no antibiotic or medicines which can completely and effectively kill the polio virus.


mysticalme said...

compliments for writing such a detailed a blog, but it tends to digress from the message it wants to convey ... statistics on how many people currently suffer from polio in india, what are the current measures taken by the government to eradicate polio should have been mentioned ...

huma said...

I appreciate the initiative and your willingness to seek comments, and I understand the seriousness of the issue as I see a close relative of mine suffering from the disease.
What more I would like to see on the blog are statistical trends on polio.
- rate of decline over the past 5 decades
- which Indian state affected most or least
- who are the victims, more boys or girls?
- what are the possible social obstructions to the polio campaign...

Mahima` said...

I will have only three more points to add to the lot already posted:

1. The post reads well in the beginning, but tends to stretch from mid onwards. It will be great to have less on the technical details of what composes the vaccine etc. and more on the practical implications of the disease.

2. The post is very alien to the Indian context. Its relevance will increase if you contextualize it to our National Situation. How about mentioning some National Programmes, targets met, problems and loopholes etc.? More statistics from India will definitely help. Indian milestones in the spread and control of the disease will make a lot of sense.

3. This is purely about the colour scheme dark blue on black is unimaginably unreadable. Please change the colour!

It is a disease one of my close friends suffers from. This, in spite of being particular about all the vaccinations on time.

priyanka said...

This is a great effort towards mobilising public opinion on a subject that is as serious as this as most of us are either ignorant or unaware of the severity of the problem.

However having said this, a few suggestions on the current blog for it to create a greater impact and encourage wider participation are

1. The colour scheme is really dark
2. Some of the text is hidden
3. Its a little too long
4. Can incorporate case studies
5. Some amount of sensationalism is required, the hard hitting facts on Polio are lacking

rakesh said...

It's a good effort being taken to promote the cause of Polio. Looks like the first of it's kind. Usually people do not choose to write on such themes. I hope the awareness this blog will create will help to eradicate this disease

Pratiksha said...

In my opinion this blog is a great initiative to create awareness about immunization against polio.The prevention from polio is so simple still its difficult to eliminate this disease from country coz lack of right information and inititave to increase the awareness.

Swabhimaan said...

It's a good initaitive to create awareness about Polio. India being one of the countries with many cases of Polio, it becomes imperative for people to know the ways and mechanisms, teh various programmes that can help and facilitate the eradication of Polio.

Reema said...

It's a good initaitive to create awareness about Polio. India being one of the countries with many cases of Polio, it becomes imperative for people to know the ways and mechanisms, teh various programmes that can help and facilitate the eradication of Polio.

fred said...

Hey..Thats good work Guys....Polio seems to be a great problem in third world countries.... Hope your efforts solve this problem...

Raj said...


I think the blog does bring out that you have done a detailed study of the subject and it's history, But I feel that it somehow distracts reader bcoz of the tone is more on science than meassge of how Polio free world can be achieved.

Also end of blog looks a bit abrrupt, without any conclusion or ending message.

But still putting together an initiative to make people aware about the efforts which have been continously being put for this mission is apprciable. This can be motivating stuff for people who are part of this mission.

Keep the Gud work going..

health said...

Please have a look at the following links. These will reveal to you how Polio is coming back. It is time to look at what we need to do and what are the alternative preventive mechanisms available.