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The polio register has been “piloting in Galway” a spokesperson for Polio Survivors Ireland (PSI) told the Medical Independent (MI), and “we hope to launch it in the spring nationally”.
“We have been doing some national campaigning already as it’s proving a success in terms of what we are trying to achieve with the Galway pilot,” added the spokesperson.
“We are funded by the HSE so their funding will be very important in resourcing this, but we are very much driving this initiative ourselves.
“The existence of polio survivors and their needs aren’t well known, given that the disease itself is eradicated in Ireland.
“Therefore the polio register is important for a number of reasons – to raise awareness and educate medical and social care providers, health authorities and other statutory services and policy makers on the number of people still alive today affected by polio,” the spokesperson continued.
“Using the register, we can reach out to the wider population of polio survivors, who aren’t aware of post-polio syndrome and we can inform them not just of our services, but also about statutory services available to them – whether they need help now, or down the line.”
The last Irish case of polio was reported in 1984. Since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched in 1988, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that worldwide polio cases have dropped by 99 per cent.
Last year the HSE told this newspaper that it will “likely” re-examine at the national polio immunisation programme in the coming years if the disease is eradicated at a global level.
Some 7,000 polio survivors are still living in Ireland with disabilities from this disease. Those who work with this community are concerned that medical professionals may no longer have adequate knowledge about the disease.
The PSI spokesperson believes that the new register will be of much benefit to doctors and those working within public health policy.
“The polio register is a tool for us to build communication between the wider community of polio survivors and the health and social care services in their area.
“The register will provide useful data to help us to advocate for improved and tailored services and supports for polio survivors. With this information we can ensure that polio survivors are included in planning for statutory supports and in short, that their needs are understood by those who can help them.”