The fight to end polio will receive an additional US$43.6 million boost from Rotary to help reach children with the polio vaccine, particularly in some hard-to-reach areas of the world where health services for children have been disrupted due to ongoing conflict and insecurity. Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) hope to end the disease worldwide by 2018.
The funding commitment comes on the heels of a World Health Organization declaration calling the international spread of polio a “public health emergency of international concern.” The eradication initiative focuses on stopping polio in the three countries where the virus remains endemic: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Stopping polio in those countries is crucial in order to halt the recent spate of outbreaks in countries where the disease had previously been beaten – such as strife-torn Syria -- and where mass immunizations of children via the oral polio vaccine must continue until global eradication is achieved. The WHO declaration further recommends that polio-affected countries ensure that incoming and outgoing travelers are immunized against polio.
The Rotary grants include $5.7 million for Afghanistan, $6.5 million for Nigeria and $5.6 million for Pakistan. Grant amounts are based on requests from eradication initiative partners UNICEF and the World Health Organization, which work with the governments of polio-affected countries to plan and carry out immunization activities.
UNICEF will use a grant of $3.6 million to bolster activities in Iraq, previously polio-free since 2000, but now one of several countries in the Middle East affected by an outbreak of polio from virus of Pakistani origin. The cases are linked to the strain of endemic poliovirus, underscoring the need to stop the virus in the endemic countries. Another grant of $146,000 will support polio surveillance activities throughout the Middle East region.
The other countries where Rotary funds will be used to fight polio are Chad, $4.2 million; Democratic Republic of Congo, $4.1 million; Ethiopia, $4.8 million, and India, $2.6 million. .In addition, grants totaling $4.7 million will support polio surveillance and technical assistance in 47 African countries. A $470,000 grant will fund surveillance throughout South East Asia, and $1.65 million will fund WHO polio vaccine research.
Rotarians in Pakistan are working tirelessly to intensify interventions for polio eradication in the country and specifically focus in on areas with high-risks of polio transmission. In these identified high-risk areas, Rotary is working on developing and facilitating a monitoring system through cell phones that will allow them to reach more children. This innovative step to reach children under five years of age will be executed through an implementing partner, the Mother & Neonatal Child Health, a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation program, the government of Sindh and Telenor Pakistan, cellular network company.
This intervention will benefit the Mother & Neonatal Child Health program by directly connecting community based workers with health service centers. They will receive 552 cell phones and with teamwork, they can cover many children missed by polio vaccination campaigns and expand routine immunizations.
The first step of the cell phone project was to procure 552 cell phones. The funds for this matching grant came from The Rotary Foundation and we are thankful to Rotary Club Baroda Metro, India and Rotary Club Karachi Kolachi, Pakistan for sponsoring this grant.
Rotary's National PolioPlus Chair In Pakistan, Aziz Memon, gave details on a polio outbreak in the country and how Rotary has worked toward a polio-free future for Pakistan. He highlighted the significance of the cell phone project’s ability to help eradicate polio by covering a wide range of children. He said the project will initially cover five districts in Sindh with the collaboration of Maternal Neonatal and Child Health Project and the government of Sindh. Upon successful results, it may be replicated in other polio high risk districts around the country.
India marks three years since its last case of wild polio on 13 January 2014, a landmark achievement for global public health and the worldwide effort to eradicate polio. Experts once considered India the most technically difficult place to end polio. As recently as 2009, India was home to nearly half the world’s polio cases. High population density, migrant populations and poor sanitation presented exceptional challenges to eliminating this crippling disease.
With commitment from Rotary, the Indian government, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, other donor governments, and the global community, India launched a comprehensive polio eradication effort and built a robust health infrastructure to eliminate the disease. An army of 2.3 million vaccinators worked to reach 175 million children with the polio vaccine during national immunization days.
Rotary's polio chair in India, Deepak Kapur, shares a little of his experience participating in the immunization effort over many years. He says, "early 2000, I visited a high-risk area during a polio immunization week. A mother refused vaccination by the health worker for her child. I tried to convince the mother that it was important to immunize her infant. She continually refused the polio vaccination for her child. I was stunned to see that a little boy, her older child, crawled in from the back entrance obviously crippled with polio. This lady, despite already having a child afflicted with polio was still hesitant to immunize her other infant. That day I realized how big a challenge it would be for us in India to make parents like her come around to save their children from polio. Along the way, we did it. To feel that no child’s life in India now will be wasted because of being affected by polio is a tremendous feeling of joy and fulfillment.
Click on our link below to see photos of the people and resources that were necessary for India to end polio.Share this gallery through your social networks to encourage others to help make the world polio-free.
Rotary helped put polio eradication on center stage on the day best known for rallying support to finish the job – World Polio Day, 24 October.
A special Livestream presentation – World Polio Day: Making History – showcased the progress of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Co-hosted by Rotary and the Northwestern University Center for Global Health, the 60-minute program took place before a live audience at the John Hughes Auditorium on Northwestern’s Chicago campus and streamed online to viewers worldwide.
The event featured an overview of the progress of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Actress Archie Panjabi from The Good Wife, a Rotary Polio Ambassador, joined a panel that includes the world’s leading expert on polio eradication, Dr. Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general for Polio, Emergencies and Country Collaboration at the World Health Organization; Dennis Ogbe, polio survivor, Paralympian, and ambassador for the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign to promote child immunization; and Dr. Robert Murphy, professor of medicine-infectious diseases at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
An announcement at the Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal, set the stage for a bold new chapter in the partnership between Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the campaign for polio eradication.
“Going forward, the Gates Foundation will match two-to-one, up to US$35 million per year, every dollar Rotary commits to reduce the funding shortfall for polio eradication through 2018,” said Jeff Raikes, the foundation’s chief executive officer, in a prerecorded video address shown during the convention’s plenary session on 25 June. “If fully realized, the value of this new partnership with Rotary is more than $500 million. In this way, your contributions to polio will work twice as hard.”
The joint effort, called End Polio Now – Make History Today, comes during a critical phase for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative . The estimated cost of the initiative’s2013-18 Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan is $5.5 billion. Funding commitments , announced at the Global Vaccine Summit in April, total $4 billion. Unless the $1.5 billion funding gap is met, immunization levels in polio-affected countries will decrease. And if polio is allowed to rebound, within a decade, more than 200,000 children worldwide could be paralyzed every year.
Rotary and the Gates Foundation are determined not to let polio make a comeback.
“We will combine the strength of Rotary’s network with our resources, and together with the other partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), we will not just end a disease but change the face of public health forever,” said Raikes.
In 2007, the Gates Foundation gave The Rotary Foundation a $100 million challenge grant for polio eradication, and in 2009, increased it to $355 million. Rotary agreed to raise $200 million in matching funds by 30 June 2012, but Rotarians in fact raised $228.7 million toward the challenge.
“Now is the time for us all to take action: Talk to your government leaders, share your polio story with your social networks, and encourage others to join you in supporting this historic effort,” Raikes added. “When Rotarians combine the passion for service along with the power of a global network, you are unstoppable, and the Gates Foundation is proud to partner with you. Let’s make history and End Polio Now.”
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