Polio:Ten facts & more to know

Visionary, sustained, ambitious and multi faceted project enduring nearly thirty years to eliminate polio. A successful end may be in sight.

After nearly thirty years of hard work, Rotary and its partners are on the brink of eradicating this tenacious disease, but a strong push is needed now to root it out once and for all. It is a window of opportunity of historic proportions.

Reaching the ultimate goal of a polio-free world presents ongoing challenges, not the least of which is a hundreds of million dollar funding gap. Of course, Rotary alone can't fill this gap, but continued Rotarian advocacy for government support can help enormously.

As long as polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, children everywhere remain at risk. The stakes are that high.

Bill Gates said: "If we all have the fortitude to see this effort through to the end, then we will eradicate polio."

Rotary International President J. Robert Jackson said

"I have been with Rotary a long time. I have seen us conquer polio in the Americas, the western Pacific areas, Southeast Asia. I have seen us donate $1.6 billion to immunize more than 2.5 billion children. Rotary started this, as I said a few minutes ago, more than 30 years ago. We have stayed with it and we will continue to stay with it. The polio virus is persistent. But Rotary is more persistent. We will, in fact, win this battle. And when we do all of us will have made good on a promise we made over 30 years ago, to leave our children, their children and your children in a world that is polio free"

TEN FACTS to know


Polio continues to paralyse children

While polio is a distant memory in most of the world, the disease still exists in some places and mainly affects children under 5. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually in the legs). Among those paralysed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized




We are 99% of the way to eradicating polio globally 

In 1988, when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was formed, polio paralysed more than 350 000 people a year. Since that time, polio case numbers have decreased by more than 99%.

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There are just 3 countries which have never stopped transmission of polio

The 3 countries are Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. They face a range of challenges such as insecurity, weak health systems and poor sanitation. Polio can spread from these 'endemic' countries to infect children in other countries with less-than-adequate vaccination.


    

Unlike most diseases, polio can be completely eradicated

There are 3 strains of wild poliovirus, none of which can survive for long periods outside of the human body. If the virus cannot find an unvaccinated person to infect, it will die out. Type 2 wild poliovirus was eradicated in 1999 and case numbers of type 3 wild poliovirus are down to the lowest-ever levels.













    

Cheap and effective vaccines are available to prevent polio

There are 2 forms of vaccine available to ward off polio - oral polio vaccine (OPV) and inactivated polio vaccine (IPV). Because OPV is an oral vaccine, it can be administered by anyone, even volunteers. One dose of OPV can cost as little as 14 US cents.









The global effort to eradicate polio - a huge collaborative venture

In fact, it is the largest-ever internationally-coordinated public health effort in history. It is spearheaded by national governments, WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF, and is supported by key partners including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Underpinning the effort is a global network of more than 20 million volunteers worldwide who have collectively immunized nearly 3 billion children over the past 20 years



    

Large-scale vaccination rounds help rapidly boost immunity

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative assists countries in carrying out surveillance for polio and large-scale vaccination rounds. When India was still polio-endemic, there were 640 000 vaccination booths, 2.3 million vaccinators, 200 million doses of vaccine, 6.3 million ice packs, 191 million homes visited and 172 million children immunized: all this in just one round of the national immunization days..










     

Every child must be vaccinated to eradicate polio

This includes those living in the most remote and underserved places on the planet. To get each vaccine safely to children everywhere, all manner of transport is used – from donkeys to motorbikes to helicopters – to reach those living in remote areas, in conflict zones or difficult terrain.












     

Polio-funded staff, strategies and resources are also used to advance other health initiatives

This Strategies to find and map every child can be applied to other public health initiatives. While a vaccination team is in a remote village, they can, for little additional cost, provide other health interventions while they are there. For example, vitamin A has been given alongside polio campaigns. Since vitamin A gives a general boost to immunity, it allows children to fend off a range of infections, this has averted more than 1.5 million deaths















We CAN eradicate polio

In 2011, this little girl, Rukhsar Khatoon, was the last child to be paralysed by polio in India. The WHO South East Asia Region was declared polio-free in 2014, marking a significant leap forward in global eradication, with 80% of the world’s population now living in certified polio-free regions. The world can be freed of the threat of polio - with everyone's commitment, from parent to government worker and political leader to the international communit

   


The History

Take a look at the recent history and major milestones of polio.

·         1894 The first major documented polio outbreak in the United States occurs in Vermont; 18 deaths and 132 cases of permanent paralysis are reported.

·         1905 Swedish physician Ivar Wickman suggests that polio is a contagious disease that can spread from person to person, and also recognizes that polio could be present in people who show no symptoms.

·         1908 2 physicians in Vienna, Karl Landsteiner and Erwin Popper, discover that polio is caused by a virus.

·         1916 A major polio outbreak in New York City kills more than 2,000 people. Across the United States, polio takes the lives of about 6,000 people, and paralyzes thousands more.

·         1929 Philip Drinker and Harvard University’s Louis Agassiz Shaw Jr. invent an artificial respirator for patients suffering from paralytic polio — the iron lung.

·         1955 A vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk is declared “safe and effective.”

·         1960 The U.S. government licenses the oral polio vaccine developed by Dr. Albert Sabin. 

·         1979 Rotary International begins its fight against polio with a multi-year project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines.

·       1985 Rotary International launches PolioPlus, the first and largest internationally coordinated private-sector support of a public health initiative, with an initial fundraising target of US$120 million.        1988 Rotary International and the World Health Organization launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. There are an estimated 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries

   

·         1994 The International Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication announces that polio has been eliminated from the Americas.

·         1995 Health workers and volunteers immunize 165 million children in China and India in 1 week. Rotary launches the PolioPlus Partners program, enabling Rotary members in polio-free countries to provide support to fellow members in polio-affected countries for polio eradication activities.

·         2000 A record 550 million children – almost 10% of the world's population – receive the oral polio vaccine. The Western Pacific region, spanning from Australia to China, is declared polio-free.

·         2003 The Rotary Foundation raises $119 million in a 12-month campaign. Rotary's total contribution to polio eradication exceeds $500 million. Six countries remain polio-endemic – Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan.

·         2004 In Africa, synchronized National Immunization Days in 23 countries target 80 million children, the largest coordinated polio immunization effort on the continent.

·         2006 The number of polio-endemic countries drops to 4 - Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, Pakistan.

·         2009 Rotary's overall contribution to the eradication effort nears $800 million. In January, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledges $355 million and issues Rotary a challenge grant of $200 million. This announcement will result in a combined $555 million in support of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

·         2011 Rotary welcomes celebrities and other major public figures into a new public awareness campaign and ambassador program called "This Close" to ending polio. Program ambassadors include Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu, violinist Itzhak Perlman, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates, Grammy Award-winning singers Angelique Kidjo and Ziggy Marley, and environmentalist Dr. Jane Goodall. Rotary's funding for polio eradication exceeds $1 billion.

·         2012 India surpasses 1 year without a recorded case of polio, and is taken off the polio-endemic list. Only 3 countries remain polio endemic. Rotary surpasses its $200 Million Challenge fundraising goal more than 5 months earlier than planned.

·         2014 India goes 3 full years without a new case caused by the wild poliovirus, and the World Health Organization certifies the South-East Asia region polio-free. Polio cases are down over 99% since 1988

















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