Here are some informations about the World Polio Day.
POLIOPLUS MESSAGE POINTS
Polio still threatens children in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Rotary's top philanthropic goal is to eradicate this crippling and potentially fatal disease worldwide.
- Since establishing its PolioPlus program in 1985, Rotary has contributed nearly 620 million US dollars and countless volunteer hours to immunize more than 2 billion children in 122 countries against polio.
- Rotary reaches out to governments worldwide to obtain vital financial and technical support. Since 1995, donor governments have contributed more than 3 billion dollars to polio eradication, due in part to Rotary's advocacy efforts.
- Rotary will continue the fight until the world is certified polio-free and every child is safe from this devastating disease.
Overall, tremendous progress has been made.
- In the 1980's, 1,000 children were infected by this crippling disease every day in 125 countries. In the two decades since, polio cases have been slashed by 99 percent. Less than two thousand cases were reported in 2006.
- Two billion children have been immunized, five million spared disability and over 250,000 deaths have been averted from polio.
In 2006, the world moved several critical milestones closer toward eradication polio.
- Last year, Rotary contributed 22.6 million dollars and countless volunteer hours to help immunize more than 375 million children in 36 countries against polio.
- Egypt and Niger were declared polio-free, leaving only four polio-endemic countries in 2006 (Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan).
- More efficient and targeted oral polio vaccines were introduced.
- Children in the hardest endemic areas were reached and the epidemic in west and central Africa (outside Nigeria) was ended.
Health experts agree that challenges to stopping the spread of polio can be met. The primary challenges are:
- Halting the spread of the poliovirus in the remaining four endemic countries from where it can continue to be exported into polio-free areas.
- Rapidly filling the funding gap of 415 million US dollars for polio eradication activities in 2007 and 2008.
Polio Questions and Answers
Q) Why did Rotary choose polio eradication as its main philanthropic goal?
In the 1980s, global health organizations were looking for ways to improve childhood immunizations worldwide. At the same time, many Rotary members saw the devastating consequences of polio in their own countries, and wanted to protect children from this preventable disease. These two forces came together and sparked Rotary's PolioPlus program.
Q) How did the PolioPlus program get started?
In 1985, Rotary International pledged to protect all children from polio, making that its primary focus after a successful pilot vaccination program in the Philippines. Rotary's initial financial support and global volunteer network provided the catalyst for the World Health Assembly's resolution in 1988 to eradicate polio. Soon after, Rotary's foresight sparked the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which is today spearheaded by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Q) As the 2005 target date for eradicating polio has passed, and polio cases are still occurring, is global eradication really possible?
Since Rotary vowed to end polio worldwide in 1985, cases have been slashed by 99 percent, 5 million cases of paralysis have been prevented, and 250,000 pediatric deaths from polio have been averted. This achievement alone is worth celebrating.
However, polio eradication can be done, and more importantly, it must be done. The strategies and tools are known, and health experts agree that the challenges to stopping the spread of polio can be met.
Failure to eradicate polio will result in an estimated 10 million paralyzed children in the next 40 years and will jeopardize the world's US$5 billion global investment in the initiative.
Q) Which countries are still affected by polio?
Four countries including Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, are still considered polio-endemic. However, an additional fourteen previously polio-free countries have reported polio cases in 2006 and 2007 due to the virus spreading from the endemic countries. These are Somalia, Chad, Angola, Kenya, Myanmar, Cameroon, Yemen, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Niger, Nepal, DRC and Namibia.
Q) Is it really possible to immunize every child in high population or conflict afflicted countries?
Yes. Two hundred and ten countries, territories and areas are now polio-free (including China), and 134 of these, which contain half the world's population, have been certified polio-free by independent commissions. This proves that it is possible to immunize enough children through polio campaigns to stop transmission of the poliovirus anywhere.
Q) What are the major obstacles to eradicating polio?
The primary challenge is to halt the spread of the poliovirus in the remaining four endemic countries from where it can continue to be exported into polio-free areas.
Of particular concern are two areas – one in Northern Nigeria, which represents the greatest risk to polio eradication accounting for half of all cases worldwide in 2007. The other area is in western Uttar Pradesh, India which is threatening the polio-free status of other parts of India, as well as neighboring countries.
Q) What is being done about the situation in Nigeria and India?
In Nigeria, a radical change to improve polio eradication activities was recently implemented with the goal of reaching more children during vaccination campaigns. In addition to the oral polio vaccine, Immunization Plus Days offer additional health benefits including measles and DPT vaccination, de-worming tablets and Vitamin A. An early review of this new approach indicated that it was successful and popular with communities.
In India, specific actions are being taken to urgently address the outbreak in western Uttar Pradesh. The first of these is the deployment of surveillance medical officers from non-endemic areas of India to key districts of western Uttar Pradesh. Secondly, social mobilization and community outreach is being strengthened in those key districts, with the deployment of several hundred community-based workers.
Thirdly, the polio partners are implementing a robust strategy to engage religious leaders at the district, state and national level. Rotary has convened numerous gatherings of religious leaders aimed to engage underserved communities more comprehensively in polio eradication activities in India.
And finally, more efficient and targeted oral polio vaccines that are three times as effective as the previous vaccine were introduced, and diagnostic tools that detect and track the poliovirus twice as fast have been implemented in both India and Nigeria.
Q) How much funding is needed to eradicate polio?
According to our partners at the World Health Organization, a funding gap of US$415 million for 2007 and 2008 must be filled to implement activities. Failure to rapidly mobilize these funds will result in immunization activities being scaled back in key polio-affected and high-risk areas.
Q) When will polio be eradicated?
Health officials estimate another 18 to 24 months, however it is impossible to predict exactly when the last case will occur. Various conditions in each of the polio-endemic countries such as, the quality of immunization activities, security, dense populations, poor sanitation and any other unforeseen event can impact the timing of polio eradication.
Regardless how long it takes, Rotary will continue the fight until the world is certified polio-free, which will be three years after the last case is reported.
Q) Will Rotary members continue the fight against polio if it continues to spread?
Yes. Rotary members are as committed as ever to protecting children against polio. This year hundreds of Rotary members from the US, Canada, Australia and Europe will travel at their own expense to join fellow Rotarians in polio-affected countries to immunize children against polio during national campaigns.
PolioPlus is Rotary's priority program and both the Board of Directors and the Foundation Trustees reaffirmed Rotary's commitment to the program until every child is safe, and the world is certified polio-free.
Q) Rotary is on the verge of eliminating polio. What will be Rotary's next project?