Concert part of final push to end polio
23 June 2011 - The "End Polio Now" Charity Concert by Rotary International District 2680 was held at the Hyogo House on 19 June. Polio usually strikes children under the age of five, and can cause paralysis for life (in around 0.5% of cases), or even death. However, it is preventable by vaccine. In 1988, representatives from 166 countries adopted a resolution to eradicate polio at the 41st World Health Assembly and since then, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has been undertaken by WHO, Rotary International, Centers for Disease Control and UNICEF. Tremendous progress has been made, with a 99% reduction in polio cases since the initiative began. However, it remains endemic in four countries.
Based on the long-running global partnership, WHO Kobe Centre Director Jacob Kumaresan was invited to open the concert together with Hyogo Governor Toshizo Ido. During the ensuing panel discussion, former WHO Headquarters medical officer and current head of the polio team at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Dr Kazutoshi Nakashima presented photos from Nigeria’s immunization programme, while Dr Giichi Maruyama, director of the Maruyama Pediatric Hospital, spoke of his experience treating polio in 1960s Japan. Dr Takeshi Maruo, director of Hyogo Prefectural Pediatric Hospital, canvassed the debate on the merits of live vaccines, which in rare cases can lead to paralysis, and the possible move to non-live vaccines. Facilitator Naoki Nakazono, professor of Kobe University, showed a video about the challenge of pursuing 100% immunization in India.