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