Friday, October 24, 2014

Happy World Polio Day!

Today is World Polio Day and to link it to Ebola: Nigeria is the African country that has had the best health infrastructure to stamp out Ebola immediately. Why? Because they used their anti-polio efforts on it. Why did they have such strong tools and all those skilled health workers ready to go? In part, because of ROTARY INTERNATIONAL's PolioPlus Program. Nigeria's Emergency Operation Center for Polio Eradication focused on the Ebola virus when it appeared within Nigeria's borders. Because Nigeria has been conducting national polio immunization drives for decades, including door-to-door visits, the Nigerian government was able to mobilize hundreds of health workers to perform thousands of home visits, looking for people with Ebola symptoms or exposure.

Nigeria's response to Ebola was a beautiful thing. Better than the U.S. was able to do.

Ironically, a couple of the countries suffering the most from polio (Afghanistan, Nigeria) have some of the best health infrastructure in place to fight outbreaks of other diseases like Ebola. Now Mali has found Ebola within its borders. Fortunately, Mali is another country that has been on alert against polio outbreaks for years. We'll see how they do.

Watch tonight's World Polio Day livestream program here. It broadcasts at 6:30 PM CDT (GMT-5) today, 24 October. Doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will give an update on the status of global polio eradication.

See what you can do to support polio eradication (and, as a consequence, strong public health infrastructure in developing countries) here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

World Polio Day 2014

World Polio Day is recognized every year in October. The date is a bit uncertain: some countries put it on October 28th which was Jonas Salk's birthday, while others have it on October 24th (or 18th) for no reason we've been able to figure out. In the U.S. we do it on the 24th and that's tomorrow.

Rotary International initiated the global polio eradication effort in 1985 and they are way deep in it. They've sunk over US$1.3 billion into this fight since they started it and they're absolutely determined to finish the job. In fact, Rotary was working on immunizing children all over the world before the World Health Organization (WHO) was. WHO didn't join Rotary's battle against polio until 1988. That's when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was established along with UNICEF and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation decided to start focusing on polio in 2007, but Rotary was in there at the very beginning and they'll be there at the end.

Rotary is hosting a livestream program that will broadcast on Friday, 24 October between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Chicago time (30.5 hours from when this post goes up). It will feature updates on the status of global polio eradication (only three countries haven't defeated it yet: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria), statements from Ziggy Marley and polio survivor Minda Dentler, and a song by Tessanne Chin (winner of the 5th season of The Voice). It will also offer suggestions for how your can support polio eradication. You can either watch it live as it happens or later as a recording at the same link. If you watch, know that I'm in the room somewhere behind the scenes, helping to put it all together.

You can help build awareness of the need for polio eradication by changing your Facebook photo to this avatar for the day. And here's a whole gallery of things you can post and tweet. Happy World Polio Day! It's a little hard to get the word "polio" out there when "Ebola" is being shouted so loudly, but polio is still a global health emergency (as declared by the WHO in May 2012) and we're on the way to taking care of it forever. Yes, polio still exists. No, nobody is completely safe from it until we wipe it out completely.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Do you use Wikipedia? I love Wikipedia

Yesterday I received an email from Wikipedia's founder that, in part, said this:

We are the small non-profit that runs the #5 website in the world. We have only 175 staff but serve 500 million users, and have costs like any other top site: servers, power, programs, and people.
Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It is like a temple for the mind, a place we can all go to think and learn.

To protect our independence, we'll never run ads. We take no government funds. We survive on donations from our readers. Now is the time we ask. 

Jimmy Wales
Wikipedia Founder
I love Wikipedia. Reading is my favorite way to take in information, so even when I take a break from ebooks and watch a movie, I immediately go to Wikipedia to research the movie I just watched. I  want to find out how it was produced, received, distributed and what else the actors have been in. I can lose myself in Wikipedia by clicking on the link to the novel of the movie and from there on the link to the historical incident it was based on, etc. Or I'll get stuck looking up the terrible 1980s sitcom an actor did, which it takes me way too long to tear myself away from.

I rarely watch more than one movie in a day.

But if you use Wikipedia, you know the hundreds of ways it's been useful to you. Come on, cough up five bucks (US$5). I did.