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Jonas Salk: Our Superman

About 60 years ago there was a terrible disease. This disease killed a lot of people. This disease made millions of kids very sick. This disease stopped a lot of kids from walking, or running, or climbing, or doing anything physical. This disease is called polio.

Polio was a very scary disease. It would make your muscles very weak. It would damage the shape of one of your legs, and it could affect your mind too. It was a very serious and scary disease because it was something that children would get.

Today there are almost no cases of polio. Only in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Congo, and Syria are polio cases occurring, and those are very,
very rare. The rest of the world, including Japan and Canada, do not have polio to worry about.

Jonas Salk was born on October 28th, 1914. He was an American scientist who studied viruses. In the 1950’s in America, 58,000 people had polio. Over 3,000 people died, and 20,000 people could not move their muscles correctly. It was very scary because you could get polio from other people, just like you could catch a cold or influenza. People were in a panic.

Dr. Salk was very serious about finding an answer for how to stop polio. He worked for 7 years to find a cure, but he did not work alone. Dr. Salk worked with thousands of other doctors all over the world. Together they found the vaccine to stop polio. It was this cooperation that made the polio cure possible.

When Dr. Salk found the cure for polio he did an amazing thing. He made the medicine free. He made the medicine free for anyone and everyone. He could have asked for money, but he never did. He was not interested in money. He was interested in helping other humans, in every country, forever.

The research made a huge positive change in the world. Billions of kids in every country in the world get the polio vaccine. This is the gift of Dr. Jonas Salk to our world. He is a superman, an international hero, and a great champion for health and freedom from disease.

This year, Dr. Honjo Tasuku, who received a Nobel Prize in medicine continues the great work of people like Dr. Salk. Dr. Honjo is studying how to make cancer therapy better for humans. We are still fighting the terrible disease of cancer, which kills millions, but cooperation, research, continual study, and preparing new doctors for the future to continue the important work are very important.

Your science classes are very important. From a strong science education, countries like Japan and Canada can make the next generation of doctors and researchers.

Today is International Polio Day. We can celebrate this great day because you and I do not have polio. One day I hope we can have International Cancer Day. And on that great day we will thank people like Dr. Honjo for saving us, our kids in the future, and our society from another horrible disease.