The eradication of polio remains the top priority of Rotary International, which is a key partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).  

So - how are we doing? The short answer is ‘slow but steady progress, though numbers are up this year - 29 wild polio cases so far, compared to 12 last year at this time.’

Rotary’s support - our support as individual Rotarians - including members of the Chimacum High School Interact Club - remains critical to eradicating this dread disease.  

Thus far this Rotary Year, which ends June 30th, individual members of the Club have donated $5,694.78 to the Polio Plus Fund, far exceeding our annual goal of $1,510.50 - and $17,084.34 when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation two for one match is included. Thank you!  Read on for details.  

 

It is no secret that the world, including the United States, is experiencing the massive movement of people across borders for a variety of reasons. The people in all countries, worldwide, remain at risk of importation of polio (not to mention other diseases such as Ebola), especially in vulnerable countries with weak public health and immunization services and travel or trade links to endemic countries. While the United States has a robust immunization program that enjoys widespread - but not total - support among the population (consider the ongoing measles outbreak, for example), the flow of over one million undocumented people over our southern border, not to mention flows between the US and endemic and at risk countries, provides significant risk to people living within our borders.   

 

Polio remains endemic in three countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. That is, polio is occurring and has not been eliminated in these countries. For details, see http://polioeradication.org/  It is true that the numbers are very low - Nigeria may very well be declared polio-free later this year - but there is significant pushback occuring in Pakistan, primarily due to religious reasons, including the January murder of two women (a mother-daughter team) supporting polio immunization.

 

This week, there has been one new case of wild polio virus detected in Afghanistan, and two in Pakistan, which makes a total of 29 cases of wild polio virus detected so far this year. This is more than twice the number detected at this point in 2018. Track polio numbers here: http://polioeradication.org/polio-today/polio-now/this-week/

 

An additional six countries are on the outbreak list. These are countries that have stopped indigenous wild poliovirus but are experiencing re-infection either through the importation of wild or vaccine-derived poliovirus from another country, or the emergence and circulation of vaccine-derived poliovirus.  Those six countries include the Congo, Indonesia, Iran, Somalia, Papua New Guinea, and Niger.   For more details, see http://polioeradication.org/where-we-work/polio-outbreak-countries/

 

Finally, there are fifteen key at risk countries, where low levels of immunity and surveillance leave the population at risk of polio returning. To ensure that every country stays free from polio, it is essential to reach every child with polio vaccines and to strengthen disease surveillance. For more information, please see the semi-annual polio plus eradication report here: http://polioeradication.org/tools-and-library/policy-reports/semi-annual-reports/

 

The good news is that we continue to make progress towards eradicating polio, though it obviously becomes more difficult as we approach zero in a world population of nearly eight billion people. While the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has begun planning for the polio endgame and a polio-free world, we’re not there yet.

 

Our support as Rotarians is critical to the eradication of polio. We are helped in this regard by the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which doubles our donations to the Rotary Polio Eradication Fund. Your support is essential!

 

Rotary is the main private sector donor supporting polio eradication.  Within the GPEI framework, Rotary’s primary responsibilities include fundraising, advocacy, and volunteer recruitment.

 

Thus far this Rotary Year, which ends June 30th, individual members of the Club have donated $5,694.78 to Polio Plus, far exceeding our annual goal of $1,510.50 - and $17,084.34 when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation match is included.       

 

Check out the The Rotary Foundation End Polio Now website here for more details: https://www.endpolio.org/ .  

 

And - thank you for your continuing support!


 

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