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Free from Polio: World Polio Day

A child receives the polio vaccine from a vaccination team
A child receives the polio vaccine from a vaccination team UN Photo/Olivier Chassot

“We need to focus on leaving no child unvaccinated, no matter how difficult it is to reach them,” says, World Health organization (WHO) polio coordinator Mohammed Mohammedi, for twenty years. World Polio Day, 24 October, is an opportunity to recognize the work of committed WHO staff members like Mohammedi.

Polio is a virus that can cause incurable paralysis.
In 1988, polio paralysed 10 children for life every 15 minutes, in nearly every country in the world. Today, there are only 3 countries that are still fighting polio, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

WHO staff play an important role in polio eradication from local to global levels. For example, WHO Surveillance Officers in Somalia have trained a network of more than 500 parents, students, and community leaders to identify every case of acute flaccid paralysis to stop infection immediately.

Through these efforts, more than 16 million people are walking today who would otherwise have been paralysed for life. More than 400 million children are vaccinated every year.

However, there is more to be done. There are more children who should be vaccinated.

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