June 2017 –
“$1.2 Billion Pledged to #EndPolio at #Rotary17 Convention” Thanks @gatesfoundation @EU_Commission @CanadaDev+++ https://twitter.com/i/moments/874269056563630080 … With polio on the brink of eradication, nations from around the world and key donors pledged more than $1 billion on Monday to energize the global fight to end the paralyzing disease. Bill Gates, introduced by John Cena, addressed the convention.
April 2017 – Rotary’s Polio Efforts Praised by Bill and Melinda Gates
Every year, Bill and Melinda Gates publish an annual letter to broaden awareness and interest in key global health and development programs. This year’s Annual Letter mentioned polio among their foundation’s ongoing efforts to fight disease and inequality, specifically, the incredible progress that’s been made towards polio eradication. Melinda Gates offers these kind words to reaffirm the important role Rotary has had leading the way to a polio-free world:
“We’re awed by the teams of vaccinators who take risks to reach each child. And we’re inspired by the infinite persistence of Rotary International. They were leading this fight long before we joined it, and they’ve just kept moving forward.”
She goes on to say, “They know going from 350,000 cases to 37 is amazing, but success is zero.” Even though a handful of polio cases have been reported this year, there is a chance these are the last cases of polio in history. This June, Bill Gates will speak at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, USA to discuss how we can — and will — end polio together.
6 Key Numbers in the Fight to End Polio
We are close to eradicating a human disease for only the second time in history. A global publicprivate partnership has reduced the poliovirus caseload by 99.9% over the last 30 years, but there’s still plenty of work to do.
Even before we reach that milestone, the knowledge and infrastructure built to fight polio is being repurposed to take on other global challenges.
3 countries where polio is still endemic
Fewer than 40 children were paralyzed by polio in 2016, the lowest number in history. This is a dramatic decrease from the estimated 350,000 cases per year in 125 countries that the world saw in 1985 – the year that Rotary International initiated a worldwide effort to eradicate this terrible disease.
In 1988, Rotary was joined in the effort by WHO, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, UNICEF (and more recently the Gates Foundation) to create the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).
Today the virus is limited to a few areas in just three countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. In response, Nigeria intensified surveillance activities to pinpoint where the virus is circulating. In Pakistan, innovative tactics are being used to focus polio immunization drives. Health workers are trained in the use of cellphone data reporting, which allows real-time recording of immunization coverage and public health surveys of populations.
In Afghanistan, the program continues to adapt in order to reach the maximum number of children possible despite a volatile security situation.
155: the number of countries involved in largest coordinated vaccine switch in history
There are three different strains of the poliovirus. Once a strain is eliminated (type 2 was officially eradicated in September 2015), we have to match our vaccines to the remaining strains to protect children globally. This transition is a massive undertaking, requiring significant funding and coordination to accomplish global health feats that have never been attempted. To give you a sense of scale, the largest and fastest globally coordinated vaccine switch in history (to target poliovirus types 1 and 3) was successfully conducted over two weeks in April 2016, with 155 countries taking part.
$60 billion: the cost of infectious disease epidemics per year
The spread of infectious diseases is consistently among the world’s top 10 risks in terms of impact. The eradication of polio will mean no child will ever be paralyzed by this debilitating disease again. However, we must use the knowledge and infrastructure built up over many years by the GPEI to take on other global health threats. Dramatic progress on improving children’s health beyond polio is already underway – resulting in a decreasing number of children dying from other preventable diseases in countries with strong polio infrastructure. Polio drops are now often delivered alongside essential services including nutrition support, primary health care and other vaccines.