World Polio Day commemorated in Mekelle under the theme ‘Bold Steps to End Polio’


The 6th World Polio Day was celebrated in Mekelle last week, Oct. 24, reaffirming a commitment to stopping the last remaining one percent of the disease for good. During the opening of the program, Teguest Yilma, National Polio Plus Committee deputy chair stressed that Polio should be the second disease eradicated in history.
“It is an extraordinary success for Ethiopia to achieve polio free status and it allows us to look ahead with great joy towards Polio endgame projects,” Teguest said in her address. “Still, we realize that now is not the time to rest, as the danger is lurking around. The status of Ethiopia as non-infected with Polio is threatened with the existence of the virus in neighboring countries like Somalia.”
Rotary International has been engaged in the eradication of polio worldwide for the past three decades, and in Ethiopia since 22 years.
The celebration was held, in the presence of health minister Amir Aman and state ministers Dr. Kebede Worku, Seharela Abdulahi and Berhanu Feyisa during the Health Sector Annual Review Meeting, where all stakeholders of the fight against polio were in attendance.
In addition to ministry of health representatives across the country, NGOs, hospitals, Rotarians and Rotaractors, partners and allies attended the event.
Delegates from Core Group, Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation, CDC, USAID, UNICEF and WHO addressed the attendees of the conference. They reiterated the need to raise awareness against Polio and to unite communities to fight it emphasizing the necessity to increase joint efforts from all health partners to stem the spread of polio virus.
A joint statement between UNICEF, Rotary and WHO noted two simultaneous potential outbreaks in the Horn of Africa due to vaccine-derived poliovirus. Outbreaks of vaccine-derived poliovirus can be stopped in the same way as wild polio by vaccinating every child, according to the statement.
“The Governments of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, as well as countries across the Horn of Africa, are committed to working together to stop the outbreaks as soon as possible.”
The number of polio cases has decreased globally from 350,000 every single year in 1988 to just 22 in 2017.