Les citoyens en lutte contre l’extrême pauvreté

Il y a vingt ans, un mouvement de simples citoyens mené par le Rotary International, organisation bénévole comptant environ 1,2 million de membres répartis dans plus de deux cents pays, a décidé d’agir. On recensait alors plus de 300.000 cas de poliomyélite par an, malgré l’éradication quasi-totale de la maladie dans les pays riches, où la vaccination était devenue monnaie courante. Le Rotary a relevé le défi d’inoculer des vaccins aux plus démunis des régions où les systèmes de santé publiques sont médiocres, voire inexistants. Les Rotariens ne rêvaient pas seulement de réduire le nombre de cas de polio, mais aussi de venir entièrement à bout de la maladie. Ce but est en passe d’être atteint.

Au lieu d’attendre que les hommes politiques n’entrent en lutte contre la polio, les Rotariens ont pris les devants. Quelques années plus tard, l’Organisation mondiale de la santé s’est ralliée à leur cause, suivie par d’autres instances internationales et pays donateurs. La coalition d’organismes privés et publics ainsi formée est désormais au soutien du grand dessein du Rotary. En 2006, le nombre de cas de polio a baissé de façon spectaculaire : on en compte aujourd’hui moins de 3.000 par an.

Même si l’éradication de la maladie est en bonne voie, il reste néanmoins du chemin à parcourir, puisqu’au cours des dernières années, certains pays ont été touchés par des épidémies localisées. Dans des cas particuliers, comme au nord du Nigeria, le refus social du vaccin a fait obstacle à une protection suffisante de la population. Des foyers de transmission de la polio subsistent en Inde, au Pakistan et en Afghanistan. D’autres pays ont vu la maladie réapparaître de façon sporadique, amenée par des voyageurs venant de régions où elle n’a toujours pas disparu. Dans de rares cas, c’est le vaccin lui-même qui est en cause et qui a conduit à la contamination.

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