Friday, October 24, 2014

Why Are Nurses Celebrating World Polio Day?

While some nurses are busy huffing and puffing about refusing free influenza shots, other nurses are taking action to protect children around the world from vaccine preventable diseases. One of these diseases they’re working to eradicate is the infamous Poliovirus. Today, we’re closer than ever to ridding the world of this devastating disease. However while the vast majority of the world is polio-free, there are still three countries where the wild poliovirus has never been stopped: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan… Nearly 80 percent of all polio cases are concentrated in Pakistan. The two other remaining polio-endemic countries continue to show progress. Nigeria has decreased polio cases by 87 percent and Afghanistan has recorded fewer than 10 cases of this devastating disease. The remaining 1 percent of polio cases are the most difficult to prevent, due to factors such as geographical isolation, poor public infrastructure, armed conflict, and cultural barriers.

But what are nurses, so far and removed, in developed countries doing to stop polio?

They are celebrating World Polio Day. 

Every year, World Polio Day provides an opportunity to recognize the importance of polio eradication efforts. World Polio Day was established to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis. Use of this inactivated poliovirus vaccine and subsequent widespread use of the oral poliovirus, developed by Albert Sabin, led to the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988. Since then, GPEI has reduced polio worldwide by 99%.

World Polio Day represents celebration and awareness: We should celebrate the success of the polio eradication efforts- the millions of lives that have been saved and the fact that the polio vaccine has helped children avoid the devastating complications of polio. However we need to be aware of the need to continue the work that that is necessary to completely eradicate this horrid disease.

Rotary's campaign End Polio Now makes it easy for busy healthcare workers(who aren’t wasting time organizing protests against life-saving vaccines). The vast majority of nurses are pro-science and advocate for usage of medical technology that keeps patients and communities healthy.  If you’re one to recognize the positive impact that vaccines have made on lives everywhere, check out a Rotary chapter in your area. They’ve been playing a major role in the fight against polio. When Rotary began the fight in 1985, polio affected 350,000 people, mostly children, in 125 countries every year. Since then, polio cases have dropped by more than 99 percent. To date, Rotary has contributed $1.3 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect more than two billion children. After nearly 30 years, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative stands on the brink of history by making polio only the second human disease to be stopped forever.

To mark World Polio Day, Rotary will host a live-streamed global status update on the fight to end polio. Invited guests include Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners; celebrity ambassadors, including Ziggy Marley; polio survivors, including inspirational athlete Minda Dentler; and Rotary members. Nurses are encouraged to watch and live-tweet support during the event.
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Nurses are busy working here in the United States to address these global concerns. Many are working towards a solution here in our own back yard, with Shot@Life, a UN Foundation campaign that educates, connects and empowers Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries. If advocacy is your calling, sign up to become a champion today.

 Nurses Who Vaccinate members are sharing personal stories about polio on blogs and social media. You can also read a post here by Nurses Who Vaccinate member Julie Cali, about how polio has and still continues to affect her family today. She’s working hard to share her story and to educate others about the importance of vaccinating.

And Nurses Who Vaccinate members are celebrating World Polio Day by doing what they do best- throwing a party. If you’re in the New York/Long Island area tonight, you can also stop by our World Polio Day event, Nurses Night Out. Nurses and healthcare workers are some of the most compassionate people, and as we thank them for working hard to keep our communities safe and healthy, we’re going to be educating them on how everyone can play a part in this historical movement.

While it may be too late to host your own World Polio Day event, you can make a difference in many ways. You can donate to causes on the front lines, tweet and blog about polio, and watch the live-streamed events. Together, let us celebrate vaccines and work together to ensure that children everywhere are protected from vaccine preventable diseases and have a shot at life.

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