The only human disease eradicated from the world is smallpox. We don’t see this deadly, disfiguring disease nowadays for two important reasons. First, we had a vaccine that provided lifelong immunity against smallpox. The second, and probably most important reason, is that the whole world came together to vaccinate the population and end the spread of this disease. Today, the world is on the brink of eradicating another human disease – polio.
Polio has been gone from the US for a long time. Today we only see cases of polio in 4 countries around the world and a little over 1,600 cases of polio every year. Our vaccination and public health campaigns have kept polio at bay – that should be enough, right? According to Bruce Aylward, the head of the WHO’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative, it’s not enough. Global travel means polio is just a plane ride away. In his TED talk about polio eradication, Aylward tells us how close we are to eradicating this disease and how we can accomplish this only if we all work together.
The Soccer Connection
Organizations across the globe are taking part in the eradication campaign. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation recently collaborated with FC Barcelona on the More Than a Goal campaign. The popularity of soccer throughout the world provides a new and innovative forum to raise awareness about polio eradication and the importance of vaccines. This blogger is very excited about this campaign as I am a HUGE soccer fan and FC Barcelona is my favorite team in La Liga.
Being Global Citizens
There are still polio survivors in the US who can tell us stories of how devastating polio can be. Because eradicating polio is a global effort, this helps to bring all of us closer together. Our actions here at home, like vaccinating our children against polio, are a step toward this goal.