World Peace Day to Aid Polio Eradication Campaign

by Suzanne Neilson

On a day dedicated to peace, the Polio Eradication Initiative hope to issue mass immunizations in war-torn regions around the world, vaccinating those who would otherwise be difficult to reach.

Established by the UN in 1981, World Peace Day encourages regions in conflict to ceasefire for one day to promote the ideal of international peace.

Rotary International joined the campaign to eradicate Polio in 1985. Since then cases have reduced by 99% but the final 1% will be the hardest to eradicate as Maurice Halliday, member of Rotary International’s Foundation Committee explains, ‘War is the biggest challenge facing the immunization programme. It’s too dangerous to enter these regions normally and so an attempt has been made to organise mass immunizations to coincide with this day of peace to get help to those who need it.’

Largely waterborne and affecting mainly children under 5, the poliovirus attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis and in some cases death.

Recent violence and fresh flooding in Pakistan mean these mass immunizations are vital to prevent the spread of the disease, which is still endemic in the country. Mr. Halliday stresses that help is imminent for the affected areas, ‘The logistics of flooding can be overcome in time and we hope to immunize up to 7 million children in one day.’