Today is World Polio Day. The day aims to raise awareness, funds and support to end polio – a vaccine preventable disease that still threatens children in parts of the world today.   

What is Polio?

Polio is a highly infectious disease that most commonly affects children under the age of five. It spreads person to person, typically through contaminated water or food. It can attack the nervous system, and in some instances, lead to paralysis, which can be life-threatening. Although there is no cure, there is a safe and effective vaccine.

About World Polio day

World Polio Day was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis. In 1988 the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was established and has reduced polio worldwide by 99%, from an estimated 350, 000 cases then, to 37 reported cases in 2016.

As a result of the global effort to eradicate the disease, more than 16 million people have been saved from paralysis.

In support of the day and to help raise awareness Jig shares his story

Jig in his bow tie at an evening event.
“I had just turned two years old when I contracted polio in Mumbai, India.

My mother told me that I had a high temperature and struggled to breathe. As we didn’t have the money it took a further two weeks to be seen by a doctor. I was admitted into hospital where I was diagnosed with Polio. By this time it was too late; I was paralysed in both of my legs and part of my hands and neck had also been affected.

Doctor’s eventually sent me home and advised my family on how to care for me through exercise and medicine. I spent more than five years in bed being cared for by my family. My mum would give me hot oiled massages every day and a big hole was also dug outside of our family home where I would spend 4-5 hours each day in temperatures up to 30 degrees. Seems pretty harsh but, back then this was the best therapy for me as my family didn’t have access to resources.

With strong people in my life I grew up believing that nothing is impossible. I learnt to play cricket through the support of my friends, who always made sure I took part.

Despite starting school at the age of nine I enjoyed education and went on to study at college.

Fast forward life… I am now 47 and have been living in the UK for the past 28 years. Life is great!

I have always loved sports and I had the opportunity to develop in wheelchair sports, basketball being my favorite. I work for Remploy and I’m proud to be a Remploy ambassador, sharing my knowledge to help increase disability confidence within businesses. I also work for the BBC as broadcast assistant, researching local stories, inviting guest into the shows and doing documentaries. The last one I did was “legacy of paralympic” and the next one is about hidden disability.

But most of all I enjoy travelling and sharing my lived experiences with others.”


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Source:  World Health Organization (WHO)