24 October is World Polio Day
24 October is World Polio Day when people around the world come together to fight polio. For each resident of our country it is as relevant as ever to remember about this incurable disease since polio outbreak was registered in Ukraine this year.
Since 2002 Ukraine has been considered to be a polio-free zone. As of that time the latter case of infection in the country was recorded in 1996. Then, thanks largely to the support of Rotary International, the situation was stabilized. Various activities for immunization were carried out and the disease was stopped. Children were vaccinated on time and free of charge, and it lasted for a decade. But since 2012 the percentage of children immunized against polio has been rapidly decreasing. If in 2014 the percentage of vaccinated kids was just under a half - 49 %, in 2015 lless than 14% of one-year-olds have been immunized against polio. By the way, in order to ensure community immunity across the country there should be immunized at least 95 % of children.
There are many reasons why vaccination against polio has become so unpopular. These are the negative experience of the measles-rubella vaccination in 2008, the lack of support of the media, extremely reduced funding due to the economic and political crises , and so on. As a result this year two kids aged 10 months and 4 years became victims of polio. It happened this summer in the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine. Officially, the virus was identified on 28 August.
In addition to the confirmation of the polio outbreak, WHO experts say that the virus has been circulating for 2 years on the territory of Ukraine. Naturally, the international community together with the Ukrainian Ministry of Health started to take retaliatory measures on immunization. The supervision has been strengthened and social mobilization is being conducted now. There has been created the operational headquarters with the involvement of international partners (WHO and UNICEF) to respond to the outbreak. These organizations provided Ukraine as a humanitarian assistance from the Government of Canada with 3.7 million doses of trivalent OPV vaccine, which is already in the country and being distributed to the regions. The so-called communication plan has been also developed. The idea is by any means available to get across the information about the need to immunize children against polio to the population of Ukraine. Rotary Clubs of Ukraine joined the communication team. The global experience of Rotary in the fight against polio will undoubtedly give informational support and assistance on a nationwide, regionwide and citywide scale or even within a family.
In Ukraine three rounds of immunization will be held. The objective is to ensure a high immunity of the population to the virus of poliomyelitis. The first and second rounds are meant for kids from 2 months to 5 years 11 months. The third round is for children aged from 2 months to 9 years 11 months.
By Olga Lauman
Translated by Olga Androsova