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October-November 2021 | Comment

John Germ – Trustee Chair’s Column

John Germ – Trustee Chair’s Column

Foundation Trustee Chair, John Germ, discusses how Rotary’s battle against polio is not yet over ahead of World Polio Day.

When Rotary courageously stepped up to pursue the dream of a polio-free world, we knew realising our dream wouldn’t be easy. But since1988, working with our partners, we’ve brought worldwide case counts down by 99.9%.

However, it’s not over ’til it’s over. It will take courage. We’re going to keep up the funding and keep on the pressure until this fight is finished, and no child ever again has to experience the devastating effects of polio.

As we mark World Polio Day on October 24th, we can take heart; we continue to make progress, and with the current low transmission rates of wild poliovirus in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we have a unique opportunity to interrupt transmission. We also have a new strategy and vaccine that will bolster our eradication efforts.

As a non-political organisation, Rotary will continue to do the work that is necessary to protect the health of children everywhere.”

To eradicate wild poliovirus and stop outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV), the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s new strategy centres around several key areas: political advocacy to create greater urgency and accountability in the endemic and outbreak countries, improved engagement with high-risk communities, improved operations and polio surveillance, and the inclusion of polio immunisation in broader health programmes.

Along with our new strategy, Rotary and its partners are using a new tool, novel oral polio vaccine (nOPV2), to help address outbreaks of type 2 cVDPV.

We’re going to keep up the funding and keep on the pressure until this fight is finished, and no child ever again has to experience the devastating effects of polio.”

This new vaccine has been deployed in a growing list of countries and is a promising development in our quest to end polio once and for all.

But there is still much work to be done. In particular, we need to remain strongly committed to our goals in the face of recent events in Afghanistan. As a non-political organisation, Rotary will continue to do the work that is necessary to protect the health of children everywhere.

Let’s raise awareness of Rotary’s role in polio eradication. And let’s double down on our commitment and keep raising $50 million each year for polio.

We have always risen to challenges — and now it is more important than ever for us to rise again, with courage, to defeat polio.

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