Dr. Joel Conn has traveled to India as part of Rotary International’s initiative to eradicate polio worldwide. As a Rotarian and President of the Pismo Beach Rotary Club, the role of his team will be to advocate to the Indian government and help motivate and show appreciation for the tireless efforts of the nearly 1.1 million volunteer workers that canvas the country. Dr. Joel will join these workers in delivering polio vaccines to nearly 173 million children during India’s National Immunization Days. It is estimated that these efforts have saved over 3.5 million children from paralytic polio since 1985.
• Rotary’s chief role is fundraising, advocacy, raising awareness and mobilizing volunteers.
• Rotary’s involvement started with a successful pilot project to immunize children in the Philippines in 1979.
• Since 1985, polio eradication has been Rotary’s flagship project, with members donating time and money to help immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries.
• In addition to fundraising and advocacy efforts, many Rotary members join health workers in polio-affected countries to immunize children against polio.
• Rotary members around the world advocate to ensure governments, the private sector and the general public are aware of the historic opportunity to eradicate polio and encourage them provide the necessary financial and political support.
• Through the “End Polio Now: Make History Today” campaign, every dollar Rotary contributed to polio eradication (up to US$35 million/year through 2018) will be matched 2-to-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
• Rotary has contributed more than US$1.5 billion dollars and committed countless volunteer hours to fight the disease.
STATUS OF POLIO ERADICATION
• Rotary and its partners are making progress along a multi-year plan to end polio. Only two countries – Pakistan and Afghanistan – have never stopped transmission of the disease.
• In 2014, we celebrated one of the world’s greatest achievements in global health: Indiabeing certified as polio-free.
India was once considered the hardest place on earth to stop polio. India’s success proves polio can be stopped in even the most challenging conditions.
• Africa has not seen a new case of polio since August 2014.
• Nigeria, Africa’s only remaining polio-endemic country, was removed from the list of polio endemic countries in September 2015
• In September 2015, type 2 wild poliovirus was declared eradicated by the World Health Organization. The last case of type 3 wild poliovirus was 10 November 2012. This strongly indicates that we have completely eliminated all but one strain (type 1) of wild poliovirus.
• The current polio case count can be found at: http://polioeradication.org/Dataandmonitoring/Poliothisweek.aspx.
THE PATHWAY TO ERADICATION
• Since the global initiative began more than 25 years, Rotary and its partners have reduced polio cases by 99.9% percent worldwide.
o When the initiative started in 1988, more than 350,000 people were stricken by polio every year – nearly 1,000 new polio cases every day.
o The polio cases represented by the remaining one tenth of a percent are the most difficult to prevent, due to factors such as geographical isolation, poor public infrastructure, armed conflict and cultural barriers.
• All countries must continue to maintain high routine immunization coverage.
• Polio will be only the second human disease ever eradicated (after smallpox).
• No child anywhere in the world will have to suffer from a disease which has no cure, but is completely preventable.
• Ending polio is proof that all children can be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
• Polio efforts are reaching previously inaccessible children, which opens the door to them benefiting from other global health and development resources.
• The infrastructure created by the polio program – from the vast surveillance and laboratory networks, to the hundreds of thousands of local health workers – are already being used to address other health challenges and diseases.
CALL TO ACTION
• Support the fight to end polio by visiting endpolio.org to learn more and contribute.
• Encourage your government to support Rotary and its partners’ polio eradication efforts.
• See your donation tripled when you contribute to Rotary’s PolioPlus efforts, through the 2:1 match by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
• Share your voice by raising awareness that we are “This Close” to ending polio.