End Polio NOW
24th October, as well as being United Nations Day, is also World Polio Day.
Rotary Stars at the United Nations
At the special session of the United Nations General Assembly on 27 September, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon confirmed his commitment to Polio Eradication and urged world leaders to support all efforts to 'finish the job'. He praised Rotary's leadership in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative
As Rotary pledged a further $75 million, Chairman of Trustees Rotary Foundation Wilf Wilkinson said "We are at a true tipping point, with success never closer than it is right now. We must seize the advantage by acting immediately, or risk breaking our pledge to the world's children. As long as polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, children everywhere remain at risk."
HOT NEWS: Rotary in the UK makes donations to eradicate Polio from the world a whole lot easier - text POLIO to 82010 to donate £5 and help us rid the world of this dreadful virus - only 3 countries left to go!
PolioPlus, the most ambitious program in Rotary's history, is the volunteer arm of the global partnership dedicated to eradicating polio. For more than 20 years, Rotary has led the private sector in the global effort to rid the world of this crippling disease. Today, PolioPlus and its role in the initiative is recognized worldwide as a model of public-private cooperation in pursuit of a humanitarian goal.
In addition to providing financial and volunteer support, Rotary works to urge support from other public and private sector partners. This includes the campaign to End Polio Now, inspired by the extraordinary challenge grants received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Challenges to polio eradication
Health experts agree that these primary challenges must be overcome in order to reach the goal of polio eradication:
- Halting the spread of the poliovirus in the four remaining endemic countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan), which continue to export it to polio-free areas
- Curbing the intense spread of the poliovirus in northern Nigeria
- Rapidly stopping polio outbreaks in previously polio-free countries
- Addressing low routine-immunization rates and surveillance gaps in polio-free areas
- Maintaining funding and political commitment to implement the eradication strategies
Four key strategies for stopping poliovirus transmission:
- Routine immunization
High infant-immunization coverage with four doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) in the first year of life is critical. Routine immunization is essential because it's the primary way that polio-free countries protect their children from the threat of imported polio.
- National Immunization Days
For decades, Rotary's PolioPlus program has been one of the driving forces during National Immunization Days, or NIDs. Rotarians are involved in myriad ways before, during, and after an NID, by providing funds for millions of drops of vaccine, promoting upcoming campaigns in the community, distributing vaccine to local health centers, serving as monitors, working with local officials to reach every child, and participating in surveillance efforts.
Rotarians play an important role in working with health workers, pediatricians, and others to find, report, and investigate cases of acute flaccid paralysis in timely manner (ideally within 48 hours of onset). PolioPlus sometimes helps fund containers that preserve the integrity of stool samples during transport to laboratories. The program has also played a leading role in providing equipment for the global poliovirus laboratory.
- Targeted mop-up campaigns
Rotary's support of mop-up campaigns is similar to NID volunteering, but on a smaller, often "house-to-house," scale.