Polio was once a disease feared worldwide, striking suddenly and paralyzing mainly children for life. Rotary is a partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the largest private-public partnership for health, which has reduced polio by 99%. Polio now survives only among the world's poorest and most marginalized communities, where it stalks the most vulnerable children.
 
Our goal is to eradicate polio from the world. 
 

Here are ten facts about polio. 

1. Polio continues to paralyze children.

While polio is a distant memory in most of the world, the disease still exists in the wild in Afghanistan and Pakistan, usually affecting children under five. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually in the legs). Among those paralyzed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized. Find out more, here: Home | End Polio . This year, since January, there have been only two cases of wild polio in the world - one each in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  

2. We are 99% of the way to eradicating polio globally.

In 1988, when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was formed, polio paralyzed more than 350,000 people a year. Since that time, polio case numbers have decreased by more than 99%. Find out more, here: Home | End Polio

3. There are now just two countries which have never stopped transmission of polio.

The two countries are Afghanistan, and Pakistan. They face a range of challenges such as insecurity, weak health systems and poor sanitation. Polio can spread from these 'endemic' countries to infect children in other countries with less-than-adequate vaccination. This year, since January, there have been only two cases of wild polio in the world - one each in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Find out more, here: Home | End Polio

4. Unlike most diseases, polio can be completely eradicated.

There are three strains of wild poliovirus, none of which can survive for long periods outside of the human body. If the virus cannot find an unvaccinated person to infect, it will die out. Type 2 wild poliovirus was eradicated in 1999. Find out more, here: Home | End Polio

5. Cheap and effective vaccines are available to prevent polio.

There are two forms of vaccine available to ward off polio - oral polio vaccine (OPV) and inactivated polio vaccine (IPV). Because OPV is an oral vaccine, it can be administered by anyone, even volunteers. One dose of OPV can cost as little as 11 US cents. Find out more, here: Home | End Polio

6. The global effort to eradicate polio is the largest public-private partnership for public health.

In fact, it is the largest-ever peacetime mobilization of people. It involves four spearheading partner organizations (the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  and UNICEF, polio-affected and donor governments, private foundations, development banks, humanitarian and non-governmental organizations, corporate partners and more than 20 million volunteers. Find out more, here: Home | End Polio

7. Large-scale vaccination rounds help rapidly boost immunity.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative assists countries in carrying out surveillance for polio and large-scale vaccination rounds. In just one round of the national immunization days in India there are 640 000 vaccination booths, 2.3 million vaccinators, 200 million doses of vaccine, 6.3 million ice packs, 191 million homes visited and 172 million children immunized. Find out more, here: Home | End Polio

8. Every child must be vaccinated to eradicate polio. This includes those living in the most remote and/or underserved places on the planet. 'Days of Tranquility' are negotiated so that vaccination teams can reach children living in conflict zones. All manner of transport is used – from donkeys to motorbikes to helicopters – to reach children in remote areas or difficult terrain. Find out more, here: Home | End Polio

9. Polio-funded staff, strategies and resources are also used to advance other health initiatives. Strategies to find and map every child can be applied to other public health initiatives. While a vaccination team is in a remote village, they can, for little additional cost, provide other health interventions while they are there. For example, vitamin A has been given alongside polio campaigns. Since vitamin A gives a general boost to immunity, it allows children to fend off a range of infections, thus averting more than 1.2 million deaths. Find out more, here: Home | End Polio

10. The WHO Western Pacific Region was declared polio free in 2000, WHO European Region in 2002, India in 2014, and Africa in 2020. The world could soon be freed of the threat of polio - with everyone's commitment, from parent to government worker and political leader to the international community. Find out more, here: Home | End Polio

In 2020, the GPEI  launched a revision of the strategy for polio eradication. The new strategy, which will take effect in January, 2020, is called Polio Eradication Strategy 2022-2026: Delivering on a Promise.

Partners and stakeholders collectively identified remaining obstacles to polio eradication, in order to inform a revised and strengthened plan. They then developed optimal approaches to reaching the goal, adapted to the global health context and based on lessons learned.

The strengthened plan aims to achieve and sustain a polio-free world through a focus on implementation and accountability.  Emphasis will be on cutting outbreak response times; increasing vaccine demand; transforming campaign effectiveness; working systematically through integration; increasing access in inaccessible areas; transitioning towards government ownership; and improving decision-making and accountability.

Many of the new tactics and strengthened approaches outlined in this plan are already operational, and the plan will officially replace the current Polio Endgame Strategy in January 2022.

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