I was most interested to read the updates on the world-wide attempt to eradicate polio by Rotary International, the World Health Organisation and with extra massive finance by the Gates Foundation (Rotary Round-up, Herald, October 16, 23 and 30).
These organisations have all done a fantastic job, presently almost achieving their objective despite not only having to overcome the obvious logistical problems of reaching the population in the depths of Africa, Asia, and South America, but also having to persuade many local politicians that the vaccine was not a way of spying on or even sterilising their people but was actually free, no strings attached, not only a way of saving many lives but also saving thousands of their own people from a life of cruel disablement. Paralysis and breathing difficulties are the obvious ones, but some 30 or 40 years after the original illness, other problems arise.
Some 80 per cent of polio survivors will suffer new problems – medically recognised as post polio syndrome (PPS) – the new symptoms being even more muscle weakness and loss of strength, fatigue and severe joint pains, and it seems there is no cure except rest!
So, Rotary’s campaign is not only saving millions of people an early death and a life of serious disablement, but also the added problems in late middle age of new disabilities from PPS. Well done, Rotary.
chairman, South of England Region,
and Worthing and Sussex branch chairman,
The British Polio Fellowship,
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