Polio had existed in society for a long time in history, although not as big a problem in history as in the 20th century, when greater emphasis was put on sanitation and children stopped getting the disease as babies. The effects of this disease on society were great. People feared that tomorrow they or their family members or friends would catch polio.
Although polio has been significantly reduced in numbers, it still continues to exist in Africa and some parts of Asia. People are still infected with polio, and there are still global initiatives for the eradication of polio. These initiatives are not very effective as recently, in Africa there has been a controversy in Kano, Nigeria, chaired by the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero and Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, who have put a lid on the federal government’s hope to get the people of Kano to use polio vaccines from the federal government. The reason they are against the polio vaccine is that there were many contaminated vaccine being supplied there, and they do not want to risk the lives of several Kano children.
Official Ezio Gianni Murzi said that while polio had nearly been eradicated globally, Nigeria had recorded an increase of 40% in cases so far in 2003 compared to 2002. Whatever the reason for this may be, at least three northern states have opposed the preventive measures against polio after Islamic leaders blamed the vaccines on being a secret US plan to depopulate Africa. Situations such as these are defering the goal of global polio eradication.
The eradication is still close to being achieved, as WHO estimates that new worldwide polio cases fell to just 3,200 in 1998. Reported cases of the disease have dropped by 90% in the last decade after the WHO launched a worldwide vaccination campaign. The number of people suffering from polio around the world is now estimated to be around 35,000. But as many as 20 million people in the world are still suffering from the effects of the poliomyelitis virus. This virus causes paralysis and difficulties walking and breathing. But it can easily be eradicated because it is difficult to catch. It is only spread person to person contact and cannot live long outside the body.
The only WHO region which is polio free are the Americas. But Europe, the Western Pacific and parts of North and Southern Africa have had no recent cases. They will be considered free of the disease only when they have gone three consecutive years with no reported cases. Polio can easily be rid of as a result of the cheapness and effectiveness of the vaccine. It costs only $3 per child. However, problems such as war and basic health infrastructure make it difficult to carry out immunisation programs in some countries.
In August 1998, for example, the Democratic Republic of Congo was forced to suspend its programme because of the ongoing fighting. But in other countries affected by war temporary ceasefires have been held so health workers can carry out immunisation programmes. Another problem, apparently in South Asia, is the population problem, as health workers find it difficult to contain the population.