Posted by Wes Bradford on Apr 03, 2018
Shirley Giltzow is the District PolioPlus Chair. She reviewed the progress of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
In 1979, Rotarians began a multi-year polio immunization program in the Philippines, immunizing 6 million children there. In 1985, Rotary International President Carlos Canseco announced the PolioPlus program to control polio worldwide. Since then, the Rotary polio-immunization program has been joined by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2007, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offered Rotary a fund-raising challenge grant which has now grown to a 2-for-1 matching grant for polio.
Nigeria has had no new cases in 2 years. The only remaining polio-endemic countries are Afghanistan & Pakistan (due to conflict), and only 5 cases have been reported there so far this year. Only Type 1 polio is still in circulation, with Type 2 eradicated in 1999 and Type 3 in 2014. 450 million children have been immunized by 150,000 workers, and $1.2 billion has been pledged.
More funds are still needed to make the poliovirus extinct, so it doesn’t flare up and spread to millions again as in the past. Money is needed to survey people isolated in remote areas including in dangerous conflict zones, to detect new cases in persisting pockets for planning intensive focused immunization efforts, and to educate people there and promote vaccinations of vulnerable children. Maintaining continuing political commitment and financial resources to distribute vaccine is necessary to prevent worldwide spread by travelers including people crossing borders to escape conflict.
Shirley urged us to promote World Polio Day on October 24 with local City Council resolutions, to improve publicity and fundraising. The lessons learned and the infrastructure developed for PolioPlus worldwide can be used to improve child health and other public health priorities. More information is available at