Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why are we celebrating World Polio Day on the wrong date?

The hindu
29 October 2014
new delhi

“Why do we continue to observe World Polio Day on the wrong date?” This simple question led Indian disability rights activist and polio survivor Dr. Satendra Singh to initiate a long struggle to set the date right.

“The United Nation’s website and Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s website both tags that World Polio Day is observed globally on October 24 commemorating the birth of Dr. Jonas Salk, who was the leader of the team that invented a vaccine against polio,’’ explained Dr. Singh, who is an Assistant Professor of Physiology at University College of Medical Sciences and works at GTB Hospital, Delhi.

“The controversy is that the U.S. virologist was born on October 28, 1914, and not on October 24 as claimed by Rotary and others. We wonder why this erroneous belief has perpetuated since ages and why nobody challenged it?’’ he asked.

Stating that he has pointed the ‘error’ to the ‘World Polio Day’ website, Dr. Singh said: “They agreed it’s wrong.’’

“I then wrote a letter to the editor of the Vaccine journal, an internationally renowned medical journal. In fact, this very journal years back had carried an article on Jonas Salk clearly stating October 28 as his birth date. The journal also immediately accepted my letter on the mix-up of dates and published it,’’ added Dr. Singh.

He added that despite reminders and follow-ups there has been no major effort to rectify the situation. “For years, we have been perpetuating this error by misquoting a legend’s birth. If Rotary International has faltered here by choosing the wrong day, isn’t it our duty to correct the same? October 24 is not yet a United Nation’s observance, but even if it has become synonymous with Polio Day can’t we celebrate the whole week as a polio week to satisfy all parties,’’ noted Dr. Singh.

Dr. Singh added that he had brought the issue to the notice of World Health Organisation.

“This year, they have refrained from mentioning the date,’’ he noted.

Google doodles Salk's 100th birthday on 28th October 2014

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