If you listen you just might be able to catch it: The world celebrating the end of the Wild Polio virus in Africa!
The disease that in the past had paralyzed 350,000 children a year has been brought to its knees by guess what? Vaccination.
Quite an achievement with a pandemic raging around the world. It’s this expertise and network of health support that may just be the equal of the Coronavirus in Africa.
How did they do it?
- Contact tracing was the central element of this gargantuan and incredible eradication effort. The WHO’s Polio program teamed up with mobile phone apps for wild polio, and now they’re being adapted to track and trace and battle COVID-19. But here’s why they were so successful with polio.
- Global Solidarity: Wild Polio has been all but defeated because important groups worked together - the CDC, the WHO, The Rotary, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and UNICEF to name a few along with local partnerships and donors from countries around the world.
- Testing: The eradication of wild polio happened because of being able to detect the virus, testing kids regularly - especially in areas that were a little more prone to outbreaks. It’s because African countries have had to deal with far more than us - like Yellow Fever, Ebola - that they are in many ways better prepared to deal with the Coronavirus.
- Finance: Completely eradicating Polio globally still requires money to make it happen. It’s because of this investment that Africa is celebrating such a huge success. So funding is massively important for developing the tests and vaccines needed to beat the coronavirus on such a huge scale all around the globe.
- Trust: The rise of misinformation and skepticism and truly ridiculous conspiracies where some even believe that our world is, well, not round - has “flattened” trust in Science. But, the truth and belief in the polio program was one of the main reasons that the battle against Wild Polio has been pretty much won. A win for science, vaccines and public trust.
Whoever develops the vaccine first, we all need to share in the process globally so that the next arms race isn’t a virus and a treatment. If we all pull together selflessly and understand that a virus doesn’t see borders; that we are all one big family despite language and geography, we might go a long way yet to making the coronavirus a thing of the past!