Why are we spending so much time and effort in the fight to eradicate polio? Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. When there are cases of wild polio virus in the world, then every unvaccinated person is at risk.   

 

There is no cure for polio, but there are safe and effective vaccines. Therefore, the strategy to eradicate polio is based on preventing infection by immunizing every child to stop transmission and ultimately make the world polio free. 

Polio spreads from person to person through sewage-contaminated water. It invades the brain and spinal cord and causes paralysis (inability to move). Because there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the best way to protect people and is the only way to stop the disease from spreading. Today, polio continues to circulate in two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In 1988, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution for the worldwide eradication of polio. It marked the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), spearheaded by Rotary International, the Centers for Disease Control. the World Health Organization, and UNICEF, with substantial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and national governments.  http://polioeradication.org/

Rotary International, and all of the 35 thousand Rotary clubs across the world, spend significant amounts of time and energy to eradicate polio. Clubs like ours, in the United States (since the Americas were declared polio-free in 1994) contribute our money to the fight, and often contribute people to help immunize children across the globe. In fact, since 1985, Rotarians have helped to immunize more than 2.5 billion children and have contributed more than 1.6 billion dollars US to global polio eradication. Last year alone, Rotarians contributed 108.3 million dollars US to the fight. 

This video, a discussion with Professor David Heymann, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, provides a good understanding of why it is critical to complete the job of eradicating polio. Coffee with Polio Experts: Prof David Heymann, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – GPEI