Letter: Rotary sponsors World Polio Day

October 24 is World Polio Day, sponsored by Rotary International in partnership with the WHO and other donors to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). I’ve only recently been made aware of efforts to end Polio. Like many, you may believe that Polio has already been completely eradicated. When Rotary and its partners launched the GPEI in 1988, there were 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries every year. In the past year, Polio was eradicated in Africa! But it still exists “in the wild” in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Recently, cases have been found in the US! In the US most children are still required to receive the IPV Polio vaccine in 4 doses. This ensures we won’t have another outbreak. But some children have not due to religious regions or misconceptions.

The Polio vaccine must be administered in multiple doses to be effective, requiring a systemic effort to reach and track millions of children. Meanwhile, we are also battling outbreaks from the oral vaccine (containing a live but weakened virus) that is still given in some areas. This cVDPVs can spread in under-vaccinated populations. In 2021 there were over 1000 cases.

The GPEI’s goal is to make the world Polio free by 2026. The Blythewood Rotary Club makes annual donations to the GPEI. Just as we eliminated Smallpox (in 1977), we are close to ending Polio. While this effort may seem overwhelming, Polio cases were reduced by 99.9% in 2015! To learn more about how to end Polio, go to www.endpolio.org. The Blythewood Rotary Club meets each Thursday at 7:30 am at the Columbia Country Club. Guests are welcome!

Dorie Combs

Member, Blythewood Rotary Club

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