Modern medical miracle…

It been a frustrating work week (& not over yet, alas). But as I was tolling my list of frustrations and complaints in my head, another random thought snuck it: This week, WHO declared India to be polio free. That’s just amazing.

It’s hard for most Americans of my generation & younger to fathom this awful disease. Polio in the US is most often mentioned in the context of FDR — a historical note, something that “used” to happen generations ago. In the west, polio vaccine has been available since the 1950s (thanks Jonas Salk!) and, aside from some isolated populations (e.g., Amish), it was practically gone in the US by the 1970s. I don’t know anyone whose family has been touched by polio in the US…

However, in the short time I’ve lived here, I’ve meet people (yes, plural) with siblings my age & younger who are living with polio. I’ve seen people on the street whose atrophied legs imply that they, too, are victims of this horrible disease. Polio is part of active, living memory and daily life here — not just history. As recently as 2009, India lead the world in new polio cases.

I cannot even imagine how big a goal it was to undertake to eradicate polio in India. (A “stretch assignment” in modern corporate lingo, if I’ve ever heard one.) And the immense frustrations and challenges the doctors, nurses, scientists, community organisers, assistants & others involved in this effort must have faced… Well, that puts my laundry list of complaints this week in prospective. I am humbled.

Kudos to public health professionals & volunteers & supporters in India and worldwide who made this happen. You have achieved a miracle.

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