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.

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