Rotarians observe World Polio Day 2019
- Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis.
Use of this inactivated poliovirus vaccine and subsequent widespread use of the oral poliovirus, developed by Albert Sabin, led to the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988. As of 2013, GPEI had reduced polio worldwide by 99 percent.
Rotary Clubs across the nation — around the world — have taken up the crusade to eradicate polio.
Locally, the Rotary Club of Crowley has contributed over $20,000 to polio eradication in just the last two or three years, according to Lee Lawrence, Crowley Rotarian.
“Last week the early contributions were already at $1,100, Lawrence told club members earlier this week, adding, “and we have a donor who has offered to match our contributions up to $2,500.”
A country has to be completely free of reported polio cases for three years to be considered “polio free.” During those years, children must continue to be immunized.
“No reported cases in Nigeria for the past three years should now make all of Africa soon declared polio free,” Lawrence said. “Unfortunately, there are still reported cases in the Middle East.”
This year there were 16 reported cases in Afghanistan. There are 6,000 social mobilizers, or people working teams working, and in September, 6.1 million children were vaccinated.
In Pakistan there were 69 reported cases of polio and 8.3 million were vaccinated during the August Response Campaign.
“This means we’ll have to be continuing in that area for at least three more years,” Lawrence explained.
The Rotary Club of Crowley will be placing donation boxes at sites throughout Crowley to give the public a chance to help in this cause.
Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines.
Polio can be prevented through immunization. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, almost always protects a child for life. The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunizing every child until transmission stops and the world is polio-free.
Though the PolioPlus program started in 1985, Rotary began the fight against polio much earlier. In 1979 Rotary members began a multiyear program that immunized more than 6 million children in the Philippines against polio.
In its early years, PolioPlus was dedicated to fundraising for immunization efforts. In May 1988 Rotary announced that the campaign, which aimed to raise $120 million, had raised nearly $220 million in contributions and pledges.
That same year, the World Health Assembly set a goal of worldwide polio eradication and launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) with Rotary as one of its partners. At the time, polio paralyzed more than 1,000 children worldwide every day and 125 countries were polio-endemic.
In 2007 Rotary entered into a partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which issued Rotary a $100 million challenge grant to raise funds for polio eradication.
This partnership continued to grow, and in 2013 the Gates Foundation offered to match Rotary’s contributions for polio eradication 2-to-1 for five years (up to $35 million per year).
PolioPlus is truly international. Rotary has 1.2 million members in nearly every country working together to end polio for good.