Rotary is genuinely ‘nearly there’ in honouring its promise to the world in 1985 to rid the world of polio. Back then, there were 350,00 cases a year but in 2023 just seven – two in Pakistan and five in Afghanistan.
This is a truly phenomenal achievement that would never have happened without the involvement of thousands of Rotarians across the world who helped immunise over 2.5 billion children in 122 countries.
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Every Rotarian should be justly proud of their contribution to this.
However, there are still five countries who are at the greatest risk of polio returning and another 26 who could potentially experience re-infection either through the importation of wild or vaccine-derived poliovirus from another country, or emergence and circulation of vaccine-derived poliovirus.
The current success is a result of the work of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, of which Rotary was a founder partner.
The Polio Eradication Strategy (2022 – 2026) is designed to achieve the following to deliver and sustain a polio free world:
- To permanently interrupt all poliovirus transmission in the last two endemic countries.
- Protect vulnerable countries with weak public health and immunisation services, and travel or trade links to the last two endemic countries.
- To stop circulating vaccine- derived poliovirus transmission and to prevent outbreaks in non-endemic countries.
- Ensure the appropriate community engagement that is essential to reduce the level of vaccine refusal and increase community commitment to child immunisation.
- To strengthen existing surveillance systems that provide the programme with the critical information needed for action.
By showing your commitment to this endeavour, which remains Rotary’s number one humanitarian project, and pledging a personal donation of $100 every year until WHO certifies that the world is free of wild poliovirus, you will help to ensure that the promise of a polio-free world will be achieved.
You will also qualify as a member of the PolioPlus Society along with Rotarians and friends across the world. Your generous donation, which will be eligible for Paul Harris recognition, will be matched 2 to 1 by the Gates Foundation and will also be credited to your club.
Don’t forget, if you are planning a World Polio Day event for October 24th, there are plenty of resources available to you and your Rotary club on the End Polio Now website.