By PDG Bob Aitken AM
RI End Polio Now Coordinator, Zone 8
With World Polio Day behind us, Rotary clubs turn their attention to the entire range of Rotary Foundation programs in November. However, it is still important to recognise the vital importance of ongoing financial support for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Thank you to everyone who did something special for World Polio Day on October 24. The ingenuity of Rotary clubs and district leaders continues to amaze and impress.
“By the time the world is certified polio-free, Rotary’s contribution to the global polio eradication effort will exceed US$2.7 billion, including over US$1.3 billion in matching funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”
Promotion of the day and End Polio Now was outstanding, with a mass of red shirts and caps lighting up walks for polio, train ride collections, flag-raising ceremonies, barbecues and other events.
The facts surrounding our amazing End Polio Now campaign continue to inspire. Take time to read the list below – and especially dot point five. The eradication of polio will provide lasting benefits across the globe for many years to come.
- Rotary International is one of six partners in the campaign to eradicate polio. The fight to end polio is led by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), which includes Rotary International, UNICEF, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the governments of the world.
- In November 2019, governments in the area of the United Arab Emirates and beyond pledged US$2.6 billion to support the Polio Endgame Strategic Plan 2019-2023.
- With the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, every $1 Rotary commits to polio eradication is matched two to one up to $50 million per year.
- By the time the world is certified polio-free, Rotary’s contribution to the global polio eradication effort will exceed US$2.7 billion, including over US$1.3 billion in matching funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
- Eradicating polio will generate US$14 billion in expected cumulative cost savings by 2050. The global effort to eradicate polio has already saved more than US$27 billion in health costs since 1988.
- On average, a child can be fully protected against polio for US$3.
- More than 20 billion doses of oral polio vaccine have been given to more than one billion children worldwide in the past decade, averting 650,000 annual cases of paralysis and some 30,000 childhood deaths during that period. The oral polio vaccine is responsible for eliminating over 99 per cent of polio cases worldwide and eradicating wild polioviruses type 2 and type 3.
- In the Indian campaign to eradicate polio a national immunisation day was held every two months; some 2.5 million Rotarians and volunteers took part, 750 special Rotary booths were set up across the nation and more than 180 million children were immunised in just eight hours.
- A new vaccine is being developed – novel oral polio vaccine 2 – which will have a substantially lower risk of seeding new outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus. The new vaccine is in phase two clinical trials and as long as further trials continue to yield positive results the new vaccine could be in use by the end of 2020.
- The polio infrastructure Rotary helped build, including its tools, workforce and extensive surveillance networks, are being used to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by supporting preparedness and response activities in many countries.
- It is very simple for you to make a personal contribution to Rotary International’s polio eradication funding program. Visit www.endpolio.org/donate.
- If polio is not fully eradicated, we could see a global resurgence of the disease with as many as 200,000 new cases each year over the next 10 years, all over the world.
- Ongoing promotion of the End Polio Now campaign is vitally important.