Rotarians will be ringing the bell to eradicate polio

Henrietta Brewer
October 24, 2019

Polio is a paralyzing and potentially fatal disease that still threatens children in some parts of the world.

The wild polio-virus (Type 1), is still an issue in two endemic countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan. At the time of the GPEI's founding in 1988, polio was endemic in more than 125 countries and paralysed 350 000 children every year.

"With no wild poliovirus type 3 detected anywhere in the world since 2012, the Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication is anticipated to officially declare this strain as globally eradicated", the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) said in a statement.

WHO is organising activities to mark the world Polio day this Thursday at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and in most cities across the world.

The goal of the event is mostly raising awareness, but proceeds from the entry fee will also be sent to Rotary International to be used specifically to eradicate polio, which is now only remains endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

To sustain this progress, and protect all children from polio, Rotary has committed to raising $50 million (US) per year in support of global polio eradication efforts. "We can make that happen". And we remain committed to the end.

World Health Organization explained that there were three individual and immunologically-distinct wild poliovirus strains: wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1), wild poliovirus type 2 (WPV2) and wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3). The polio virus invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours.

Rotary likes to say they're running a marathon of their own, and they're nearly at the finish line: only three endemic countries are left: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.

The last case of polio type 3 was detected in northern Nigeria in 2012, and global health officials have since been conducting intense surveillance to ensure it has gone. "The GPEI 2019-2023 Investment Case lays out the impact of investing in polio eradication", said WHO.

Type 1 is now circulating in Afghanistan and Pakistan only. Nigeria, one of the last four polio-case countries, has been clean for three years.

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