Celebrating our children through polio eradication

Celebrating Children

Written by Lorretta Epuechi


Prior to the establishment of the Children’s Day by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954, the rights of children were almost non-existent in a lot of countries around the world. Children were subjected to different forms of abuse, exploitation and discrimination. They were used as labourers, immersed in armed conflicts, living on the streets; their sufferings were as a result of religion, minority issues or disabilities. Child mortality was prevalent largely due to diseases that were otherwise preventable. While these still occur, there is a new consciousness on the rights of a child.

The 1954 proclamation is aimed at promoting mutual exchange and understanding amongst children, and initiating action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world’s children. In promoting the welfare of children, their basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, education and good health are imperative in other to enhance their life’s expectancy and development.

Under the UN Convention of the Rights of a Child, all children have an explicit right to achieve their developmental potential and to sustain the highest possible standard of health; unfortunately a lot of children have been plagued by childhood killer diseases, most being avertable.

Polio is one disease that affects children; it has no cure, but it is preventable. It is caused by a poliovirus infection and accounts for major cases of partial and full paralysis in human beings, especially children. Over the past two decades, tremendous progress has been made towards its eradication. In 1988 when the World Health Assembly established the goal of eradicating the disease, wild polio virus was endemic in 125 countries and about 350, 000 people, majorly young children were paralyzed by polio. Immunization efforts have since reduced the number of cases by up to 99% globally. Presently it remains endemic only in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

In Nigeria today, the Federal Government has committed enormous funds to its “Kick Out Polio” campaign. The goal is to completely eradicate the disease especially in the Northern parts where the disease still retains a foothold due to security challenges; challenges that resulted in the killing of health and aid workers, even the abduction of over 200 school girls.

On March 1st 2014 at an event that took place in Oraifite, Anambra State, Nigeria, the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (S.E.O.F) in collaboration with Rotary International launched an immunization program where Polio vaccines were administered to children. The founder of S.E.O.F, Sir Emeka Offor who is also Rotary International’s Polio Ambassador (the first from Nigeria) has shown a lot of commitment to the fight against the polio scourge. As part of his efforts to this crusade, he has donated more than a million USD to Rotary International and is still doing more.

During the ceremony, Sir Offor spoke on the ills of Polio and the benefits of immunization. He called on all Nigerians, captains of industries, the Civil Society and Faith Based leaders to support this noble course of ending Polio in Nigeria. In his words “Polio is an ugly monster that everyone, regardless of age, race, tribe, religion or political affiliation should rise up against, to ensure that we secure the future of our children even those yet unborn”.

As we mark the Children’s Day, let us bear in mind that our children are our future and it is our obligation to ensure the preservation of this future.

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