March 26, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Polio is a tricky virus that can spread unknowingly. For each positive case of polio, there are approximately 200 other people quietly spreading the disease without them knowing it. This makes is crucial to apply a polio transmission surveillance system that can monitor possible outbreaks.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative investigates possible cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) by monitoring every child that reports any kind of limp or symptom of polio. There are many diseases and health problems that can cause limping and similar symptoms such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome and enterovirus infections but the initiative will investigate any possibility.
When a possible polio case is suspected, test results are analysed at a WHO accredited laboratory or in a WHO regional laboratory. However, sometimes reports cannot be investigated, particularly if a possible polio case is detected in places of conflict where there is civil or political unrest.
In 2013, the World Health Organization received information about 100,000 possible AFP cases around the world. Only 404 were found to be positive for polio. Despite the small chance of a problem turning out to be polio, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative investigates each case to ensure that all cases of polio is recorded and detected.
Polio is endemic in 3 countries, namely Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. It is also present in other developing and even first world countries around the world such as West Africa and the Horn of Africa. While it may seem negligible, the fact is as long as polio exists in any country, the rest of the world will remain at risk of polio outbreaks.
India is a polio success story in its fight against polio due to the country’s health system in effectively monitoring any possible polio case. Egypt is also another country that successfully eradicated polio within its territory. In Egypt, scientists test the environment as far as testing sewage samples. When tests come back positive, children in the area are immediately vaccinated against the disease.
To effectively eradicate polio from the face of the earth, a consolidated effort needs to be put in place. This is where the Global Polio Eradication Initiative becomes involved by strengthening the monitoring system around the world. This is done with the cooperation of healthcare authorities around the world and healthcare providers who are put in place to conduct surveillance.
The search for committed professionals and volunteers who are dedicated towards the eradication of polio is ongoing. Anyone from the medical, healthcare, and research sectors are always welcome to apply with the organisation or volunteer their time and efforts to the cause of eradicating the polio virus from the planet.