Today is World Polio Day. Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that mainly affects the nervous system of young children. Worldwide, the WHO says 99 percent of polio cases have been eradicated, while the last recorded case in Mexico dates back to 1990. If polio is already eradicated in Mexico, why do vaccination campaigns continue?
Although the incidence of polio is a distant memory for most of the world, according to the WHO there are still cases in countries like Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. The existence of poliomyelitis in these countries could mean a spread of the disease to other countries where vaccination is insufficient. “Polio can spread from these countries to infect children in countries that do not have an adequate vaccination system,” explains the WHO.
However, anti-vaccination movements are as old as the vaccines themselves. When British physician Edward Jenner discovered the first vaccine against smallpox in 1796, these movements began to emerge. The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, however, emphasizes that vaccination is among the most effective public health interventions. The publication also says that vaccines have eradicated many diseases, which in turn has increased anti-vaccine movements, which question the use of vaccines when these diseases are no longer common. “Misinformation, suspicion about vaccines and distrust of governments and health authorities have led many parents to oppose the vaccination of their children,” the Lancet Infectious Disease Journal reported.
Recently, some diseases that were believed eradicated have re-emerged around the world. For example, last year, the Lancet Infectious Disease Journal revealed that countries such as Romania, Italy and France had experienced a reappearance of diseases such as measles due to low immunization rates. Similarly, in March, the Ministry of Health of Mexico reported three cases of measles in Mexico; the authorities affirmed that the infected persons were a woman of Italian origin, her son and her nanny. According to the institution, Mexico has had no record of measles cases since 1996.
In this context, the Ministry of Health and other authorities recommend that, given the interconnected nature of today’s world, it is important to have vaccination campaigns regardless of whether the diseases are no longer present in the country. Until a disease has been eradicated worldwide, there is always the possibility that it will reappear if the proper vaccine is not available.
Industry Analyst and Journalist at Mexico Business Publishing