It was with absolute horror that I learnt from the Health Department that immunisation against polio is not compulsory in South Africa.
This is hypocritical because millions of rands are spent by the department on polio immunisation campaigns. If immunisation is not enforced, why have expensive campaigns?
Polio has still not been eradicated in South Africa. We might not have cases of flaccid paralysis, notification of which is required by the World Health Organisation, but the government has neglected to deal with non-paralytic polio. Symptoms include high fever and running noses, and survivors are not free from post-polio syndrome in later life.
Malaria and TB have come back stronger than ever. With the department's attitude to polio immunisation, that condition could return in a worse and uncontrollable manner.
As hosts of the 2010 Soccer World Cup we will have thousands of supporters from the rest of Africa in South Africa. Many of those coming have never been immunised. Let us not forget that there are many countries in Africa that still have polio.
Parents would be well advised to immunise their children. If you are against immunisation, may I remind you that you will have to live with your conscience if your child has to live with the consequences of polio.
Cilla Webster, Umkomaas