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John Brady TD praises campaign to eradicate Wild Polio in Africa

31 August, 2020 - by John Brady TD

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has applauded the efforts of those in the international community who contributed to the campaign to eradicate wild polio in Africa.

Speaking today, Teachta Brady said:

“In the midst of a global pandemic and having to contend with violence from extremist Jihadi groups on the ground, this is just a fantastic achievement. In 1950s, Dr Jonas Salk developed the first successful vaccine for polio. The 1952 epidemic had devasted thousands of lives to the degree that only the threat of nuclear annihilation frightened people more than polio.

“Dr. Salk, and later Dr. Albert Sabin who later developed the oral vaccine both refused to patent their work, allowing the vaccine to become quickly and freely available throughout the world.

“Today, a coalition of millions, from the UN and the WHO, and NGOs, local and national governments, community volunteers and survivors continuing in the selfless vein of Salk and Sabin have declared Africa free of the scourge of wild polio.

“The campaign took place in the face of violent attacks on health workers by anti-vaccine protestors and Islamic extremists. In 2013, nine women who were administering the vaccine were murdered by gunmen from Boko Haram. In total it is believed that 67 frontline health workers have been killed.

“With many more being attacked and abducted during their efforts to curb the disease. In the late 1980s, there were 355,000 cases in Africa. In 1996 alone, polio killed 75,000 children. The late South African leader Nelson Mandela helped to trigger the campaign to eradicate the disease. It is inspiring to witness the courage, determination and absolute selflessness of those who spearheaded and delivered this campaign.

“I believe the achievement of those behind the campaign to free Africa from the scourge of wild polio have offered us an instance of the true meaning of public service."

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