Rotary Clubs all over District 7070, during the week of October 19-24, celebrated World Polio Day 2015, October 24, 2015, as we told the world that Polio is being eradicated and that Rotary is leading the way. A very special thank you goes out to our World Polio Day Chair for District 7070, Jennifer Boyd.

 

Rotary began immunizing millions of children against polio in the 1970s, first in the Philippines and then in other high-risk countries.

ROTARY AND POLIO BACKGROUND

When Rotary began the fight in 1985, polio affected 350,000 people, mostly children, 

in 125 countries every year. Since then, polio cases have dropped by more than 99 percent.

To date, Rotary has contributed $1.4 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect  more than two billion children.

After nearly 30 years, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative stands on the brink of history  by making polio only the second human disease to be stopped forever.

WHY POLIO ERADICATION MATTERS

No child anywhere in the world will have to suffer from this completely preventable  disease. 

It only costs 60 cents to protect a child against polio for life.

Reaching the most vulnerable children with the polio vaccine leads the way to the delivery 

of other life-saving resources. A win against polio is a win for global health in the broadest sense: a true legacy.

Polio rates in those countries plummeted,” Ron Burton, Past Rotary International President  said. “As a result, in 1988, Rotary, the World Health Organization [WHO], UNICEF, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came together to launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.  More recently, the initiative has benefited from the tremendous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation . . . . It is so very important to finish the job.”

Moreover, the polio endgame strategic plan, if fully funded, is equipped to stop outbreaks. The plan outlines strategies to reach children living in nomadic pastoral communities where population-wide immunity is low.

Today, all children everywhere can have a better future, not just against polio, but against every disease . . . if we as a global society get behind the vision of Rotary 30 years ago to reach every child with something as simple as polio vaccine.”

Polio is preventable. For as little as 60 cents US , a child can be saved from this dreaded disease. The global fight is winnable, noting that the number of cases in the endemic countries –Afghanistan, and Pakistan – is down 40 percent in 2013, compared to the same period in 2012. The the type 2 wild poliovirus has been eradicated, and   November 2013 marked one year without a case of type 3 virus anywhere in the world.

Since the global polio eradication initiative began in 1985, Rotary and its partners have reduced  polio cases by 99 percent worldwide. 

We are on the verge of making history. In 1985, with the launch of its flagship PolioPlus program, Rotary became the visionary organization to take on the ambitious goal to end polio worldwide. At that time, polio crippled more than 350,000 children per year in 125 countries. Over the next 30 years, we have mobilized other partners, governments, and communities to immunize the world’s children against polio. We’ve kept our promise to work toward eradicating this disease, and the leadership, commitment, and generosity of Rotary members has brought the world 99.9 percent of the way there.

Today, only Pakistan, and Afghanistan remain polio-endemic, and in 2014, there were fewer than 360 polio cases in the world.

But we aren’t done yet. With every inch we gain against polio, we must redouble our efforts to protect that progress, and to eliminate polio from its final hideouts in some of the hardest-toreach parts of the world.

Why? No child should be crippled or die from a disease that is completely preventable. And the lessons we’ve learned from fighting polio — and the health infrastructure created to do so — pave the way for other lifesaving health interventions. This is a true legacy Rotary can be proud to leave for future generations.

There are only TWO countries  where the wild poliovirus  has never been stopped:  Afghanistan, and  Pakistan.

  • Fewer than 10 cases have been reported in Afghanistan so far in 2015. Strengthening immunization campaigns is key to stopping polio in the country.

  • According to experts, Pakistan will prove the biggest challenge to global eradication efforts, with the country accounting for nearly 90 percent of the world’s cases in 2014. However, we’ve seen recent progress in Pakistan, with the country reporting a near 75 percent reduction in cases in the first half of 2015 compared to the same time in 2014.

On September 25, 2015, we celebrate an exciting milestone on the road to polio eradication. The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria polio-free and removed it from the list of polio-endemic countries. This means there are no longer any polio-endemic countries in Africa, and only two endemic countries remain in the world.

  • This announcement comes on the heels of another important landmark earlier this week. One of the three strains of wild poliovirus (Type 2) was declared eradicated on 21 September, and we will soon pass three years without a case of Type 3.

  • However, the path to making history contains obstacles, and the complex political and security climates in both Pakistan and Afghanistan mean the wild virus continues to circulate in these two countries.

  • As we move forward, some strategic shifts are needed to address ongoing challenges, such as missed children, surveillance quality and low immunization rates in conflict areas.

  • With a fully funded program and global commitment to ending this disease, we have the opportunity to interrupt transmission of the wild poliovirus in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2016, opening the door for the certification of global eradication in 2019.

  • An increase in resources of $1.5 billion will help Rotary and its partners to focus on the last and most vulnerable children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, while continuing to protect hundreds of millions of children already living in polio-free countries.

  • And August 11, 2015 - marked one year since the last case of polio in Africa: a case in Somalia that came at the end of an outbreak in the Horn of Africa.

  • Africa’s countries have overcome significant challenges — including lack of security and difficulty reaching children in remote places — to protect their children from polio.

‚ÄčRotary has played an important role in reaching these milestones.


Rotarians have dedicated their time and their personal resources to keep children safe from this disease by:

  • immunizing them,

  • donating money,

  • raising funds,

  • and urging governments to support the cause.

And in early 2014, we celebrated  one of the world’s greatest  achievements in global  health: India being declared  polio-free. India was once  considered the hardest place  on earth to stop polio. Now,  India’s success proves polio can  be stopped in even the most  challenging conditions.

The remaining  1 percent of polio cases are the most  difficult to prevent, due to factors such as geographical  isolation, poor public infrastructure, armed conflict, and  cultural barriers.

Rotary’s chief role is fundraising, advocacy, and  mobilizing volunteers. Other partners in the Global Polio  Eradication Initiative are the World Health Organization,  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UN Foundation, and UNICEF,  along with world governments. 

Every dollar Rotary raises (up to $35 million/year) will be  matched 2-to-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation . And the Government of Canada has followed suit. Every dollar Rotary raises will be  matched 2-to-1 by the Government of Canada for polio eradication efforts through 2018.

The fight to end polio is a massive effort that Rotary and its partners cannot do alone. We need everyone's help , even from  from governments, non-governmental organizations, corporations and the public. Our promise to the children of the world: to ensure that no child will suffer from this crippling disease ever again.

 

 
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