My name is Piper Paquen and I’ve been uncovering a monumental story. Dimes marching, miracle discoveries and an army of health workers were just the beginning. Read on to find out how I joined the biggest movement of our time and how every one of us, including you, can end this story altogether.... ushering in a whole new era.
Following the pictographs on a mysterious ring, I discovered the story of a powerful public figure paralysed by a crippling disease and a country gripped by fear of infection. The story of a disease that could strike anywhere and destroy the lives of millions of children and adults, a disease that created a movement by the people, creating a vaccine for the people. A disease called Polio.
Miss the last part of my story? You can catch up here.
I discovered a global effort using a new and improved vaccine to reach the most vulnerable communities on the planet, thanks to the father of the oral polio vaccine, Albert Sabin.
I learned that wars would prevent immunisations reaching those that needed it most... and that armies would part to let crucial work against polio continue. But there was something missing.
I had solved the puzzle of the pictographs, following the incredible story of polio from 1921 all the way to a movement to stop the disease during conflicts in the 1960’s... But as I looked at the last picture I wondered about the effects of polio today.
I marvelled at the scale of a monumental movement to end the disease happening right now, across the world and in Australia, America and the UK. I imagined a huge gathering and a chance for millions of young people to play a part in the greatest achievement of our generation, celebrating the end to polio in our lifetime.
How did such an enormous effort reach a global scale that today has ended 99% of polio cases, down to just 421 in 2011 from more than a 1000 cases worldwide in a single day in 1988?
In 1985, Rotary International were the first to launch a global public health campaign to drive the eradication of Polio. By 1988, the success of the ‘Polio Plus’ was such that the World Health Organisation (WHO) joined forces with Rotary, UNICEF and the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative that would go on to vaccinate more than 2.5 billion children across 200 countries with more than 20 million volunteers.
Polio – a disease which has disabled millions and pulled individuals further into poverty – has been reduced by 99% over the past 30 years, and its end is within our reach.
In 1990, the Initiative established the Global Polio Laboratory Network to detect and research the virus across the globe and in 1994 the World Health Organisation announced the last cases of polio in Central and South America – with the Western Pacific being certified polio free in 2000 and Europe following in 2002.
With bigger and bigger vaccination programs after the millennium, polio was beaten back despite severe conflicts in polio endemic regions of Africa and fresh outbreaks in West Africa, Yemen and Indonesia. Today, polio is endemic in just four countries, representing a reduction in cases by more than 99%: in NIgeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.
We’ve reached the brink of defeating polio forever... but in 2011 we need to overcome a funding gap to make sure that the work of the Polio Eradication Initiative and Rotary International continues this incredible by story reaching those most in need.
In 2000, a record of 550 million children received the oral polio vaccine – almost 10% of the world’s population. Even more were vaccinated in 2001, and in 2006 there were only four countries left.
Ending polio is the missing piece. By supporting the Global Poverty Project, Rotary International and the Polio Eradication Initiative, I believe we can make this the monumental achievement of our generation. That’s why I started a petition to call on our world’s leaders and make it happen.
Together we can end polio and complete the missing piece. With a signature you will be adding your voice to the thousands of supporters calling for an end to a crippling and potentially fatal disease that threatens the lives and prosperity of millions. For every signature, Rotary will vaccinate a child in need and give us a chance to finish the story.
That’s 5 million children who can now play, learn and grow free from Polio. That’s 5 million reasons to make this the monumental achievement of our generation.
This is the story of Polio. This is your story. You can support the end of polio by joining my facebook page and follow the latest news from the movement at theendofpolio.com!