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Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation extending fundraising partnership to eradicate polio

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Partnership will infuse an additional US$450 million into global polio eradication effort

EVANSTON, Il. (January 22, 2020) – Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are renewing their longstanding partnership to end polio, announcing a joint commitment of up to $450 million to support the global polio eradication effort.

“Because of the efforts of Rotary and its partners, almost 19 million people are walking today who would have otherwise been paralyzed,” said John Germ, Past President of Rotary International who leads Rotary’s polio fundraising efforts. “By partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we’re ensuring that children in polio-affected countries get the lifesaving vaccines they need to be protected from polio for life. As the first organization to envision a polio-free world, Rotary is more committed than ever to delivering on our promise that one day, no child will ever again be paralyzed by polio.”

To an audience of Rotary volunteer leaders from around the world, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation delivered a video message announcing the extension of a funding partnership forged more than a decade ago. Rotary is committed to raising $50 million per year over the next three years, with every dollar to be matched with two additional dollars from the Gates Foundation. This expanded agreement will translate into up to $450 million for polio eradication activities.

“The Gates Foundation’s longstanding partnership with Rotary has been vital to fighting polio,” said Mr. Gates in today’s message to Rotary volunteers. “That’s why we’re extending our funding match, so every dollar that Rotary raises is met with two more. I believe that together, we can make eradication a reality.”

In addition to the extended funding partnership with the Gates Foundation, Rotary is also announcing US$45 million in funding for polio eradication efforts in countries throughout Africa (Angola, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan), and Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan and the Philippines). The funding will help support crucial polio eradication activities such as immunization and disease detection, research, and community mobilization.

Polio—a paralyzing and sometimes deadly disease—is on the verge of becoming the second human disease in history to be eradicated. This critical funding helps ensure that children in at-risk countries are protected from polio, and that the wild poliovirus is eliminated in the last two countries that continue to report cases.

While only Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to report cases of wild poliovirus, the remaining challenges to global eradication—like difficulty reaching children amid insecurity and conflict and weak health systems—have proven to be the most difficult. In order to meet these roadblocks head on and ensure the continuation of program efforts, funding and support from donors and world governments is imperative.

Rotary has contributed more than $2 billion to fight polio, including matching funds from the Gates Foundation, and countless volunteer hours since launching its polio eradication program, PolioPlus, in 1985. In 1988, Rotary formed the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance later joined. When the initiative launched, there were 350,000 cases of polio every year. Today the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent.

Anyone can be a part of the fight to end polio and have their donation to Rotary matched 2-to-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Visit endpolio.org to learn more and donate.

About Rotary: Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. We connect 1.2 million members from more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in almost every country in the world. Their service improves lives both locally and internationally, from helping those in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. Visit Rotary.org and endpolio.org for more about Rotary and its efforts to eradicate polio.

https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-and-bill-melinda-gates-foundation-extending-fundraising-partnership-eradicate-polio

Rotary and the Gates Foundation extend funding match for polio eradication

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By Rotary International

Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced on 22 January that their long-term fundraising partnership, which generates up to $150 million annually for polio eradication, will continue. Under the agreement, Rotary is committed to raising $50 million a year over the next three years, and each dollar will be matched with an additional two dollars by the Gates Foundation.

In a video address at the 2020 Rotary International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA, Bill Gates told incoming district governors that the partnership with Rotary needs to continue.

“The Gates Foundation’s longstanding partnership with Rotary has been vital to fighting polio,” Gates said. “That’s why we’re extending our funding match, so every dollar that Rotary raises is met with two more.”

He added, “I believe that together, we can make eradication a reality.”

The funding will support polio eradication efforts such as disease surveillance, technical assistance, and operational support for immunization activities.

The partnership between Rotary and the Gates Foundation has yielded $2 billion, and Rotarians have given countless volunteer hours to fight polio since Rotary started its PolioPlus program in 1985.

Be a part of the fight to end polio and have your donation matched 2-to-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Visit endpolio.org to learn more and donate.

Watch Gates talk about the extended funding match.

https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-and-gates-foundation-extend-funding-match-polio-eradication

Holger Knaack sees opportunities for Rotary to change, thrive

Rotary International President-elect Holger Knaack is encouraging Rotarians to seize the many opportunities Rotary offers to enrich their lives and the communities they serve.

Knaack, a member of the Rotary Club of Herzogtum Lauenburg-Mölln, Germany, revealed the 2020-21 presidential theme, Rotary Opens Opportunities, to incoming district governors at the Rotary International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA, on 20 January.

Rotary isn’t just a club for people to join, but rather “an invitation to endless opportunities,” said Knaack, who becomes president on 1 July. He emphasized that Rotary creates pathways for members to improve their lives and the lives of those they help through service projects.

“We believe that our acts of service, big and small, create opportunities for people who need our help,” Knaack said. He added that Rotary creates leadership opportunities and gives members the chance to travel the world to put their service ideas into action and make lifelong connections. “Everything we do opens another opportunity for someone, somewhere,” said Knaack.

Changing for the future

Knaack also urged members to embrace change so Rotary can expand and thrive. Rather than setting a specific target for increasing the number of members, Knaack said he’s asking clubs and districts to think about how to grow in a sustainable and organic way. He wants clubs to focus on keeping current members engaged and adding new members who are the right fit for their club.

We will capture this moment to grow Rotary, making it stronger, more adaptable, and even more aligned with our core values.

Holger Knaack

Rotary International President-elect

“We need to stop thinking of new members as people we can mark down as statistics and then forget about,” Knaack said. “Every new member changes us a little bit. That person brings a new perspective, new experiences. We need to embrace this constant renewal. We will grow stronger as we learn from new members.”

Knaack pointed to Rotary’s Action Plan as a compass that can guide clubs as they evolve. He recommended that every club have a strategic plan meeting at least once a year. At that meeting, clubs should ask where they want to be in five years and how they can bring more value to their members.

Knaack also wants to see more women in leadership roles and see Rotaractors play an integral role in how new clubs are formed and run. He encouraged district leaders to create new club models and rethink what it means to be in Rotary, and allow young people to be the architects of these new clubs.

“We have to be open to new approaches, and creating unique clubs for younger people is just part of the solution,” said Knaack. “Let Rotaractors decide what kind of Rotary experience works best for them. These young people are bright, energetic, and they get things done.”

In stressing the need for Rotary members to embrace change, Knaack noted that time won’t slow down for Rotary: “We will not let rapid change defeat us. We will capture this moment to grow Rotary, making it stronger, more adaptable, and even more aligned with our core values.”

https://www.rotary.org/en/holger-knaack-sees-opportunities-rotary-change-thrive

Rotary establishes peace center at Makerere University

Inaugural 2021 class will focus on shaping peace and development in Africa

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KAMPALA, Uganda (9 January 2020) — From human rights violations to the impacts of climate change, Rotary and Makerere University are offering a postgraduate certificate program to peace and development leaders who are from or who have worked in Africa to address the underlying challenges to peace in the region.

The year-long program in Peacebuilding, Conflict Transformation and Development will emphasize issues and solutions that are of particular relevance throughout the African continent and beyond. Hands-on experience will complement coursework that addresses topics including human rights, governance, and the role of the media in conflict. Other studies will focus on refugees and migration, as well as resource and identity-based conflicts.

The program will incorporate the Positive Peace framework pioneered by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) as well as apply concepts grounded in mediation and negotiation, African philosophy, and indigenous mechanisms for conflict resolution. “For centuries, we have looked at peace as the absence of violence, without fully considering the other drivers in play,” said Olayinka Babalola, vice president, Rotary International Board of Directors. “Instead of merely examining the causes of war, Rotary Peace Fellows at Makerere University will explore the underpinnings of peace to achieve tangible measures of human wellbeing and progress.” The program is designed to accommodate working professionals with at least five years of proven experience in the areas of peace and development. There will be two cohorts a year each with 20 fellows, and the first class will begin in February 2021. The online application will be available in February 2020.

“Makerere University is situated at the heart of the Great Lakes region, which has experienced the most strife and the most conflicts in Africa,” said Barnabas Nawangwe, University vice chancellor. “We’ve had frequent experience with conflict, so we established our peace program more than 15 years ago to expand our expertise and augment our engagement in the area of conflict and peace. Partnering with an international organization like Rotary allows us to demonstrate on a global scale what we’ve been doing in our local environment. Based on our past rich experience, we can confront strife in populations all over the world.”

Every year, Rotary awards up to 130 fully funded scholarships for dedicated peace and development leaders from around the world to study at any of its seven peace centers programs. In just over 15 years, Rotary Peace Centers have trained over 1,300 individuals for careers in peacebuilding in more than 115 countries, and program alumni serve as leaders in both governmental and nongovernmental agencies, international organizations, and more. About Rotary: Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from those in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. To learn more about Rotary Peace Centers programs and fellowships and to start an application, visit www.rotary.org/peace-fellowships. About Makerere University: Established in 1922 as a technical school, Makerere University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Africa. It is composed of nine colleges offering programs for 35,000 undergraduates and 3,000 postgraduates. Its Department of Religion and Peace Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, will host the Rotary Peace Centers program. To learn more, visit https://rpc.mak.ac.ug.

Contacts:

Rotary: Claudia Brunner, +41.44.387.7116, claudia.brunner@rotary.org and Stephanie Herzfeld, +1847 425 5797, stephanie.herzfeld@rotary.org

Makerere: Dr. Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala, +256772309982, hnkabala@chuss.mak.ac.ug

https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-establishes-peace-center-makerere-university

Toastmasters and Rotary partner to help members grow professionally and make a difference in their communities

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo., Jan. 7, 2020 — Members of Toastmasters and Rotary will enhance their skills, broaden their networks and increase their positive impact in communities through a new collaboration.

The ongoing relationship between the two organizations will begin at the grassroots level with local club members learning and working together. Additionally, Toastmasters will create a set of eight structured communication and leadership development courses for Rotary with a phased rollout that will be available in English in 2020, and in more languages in 2021.

“The strategic alliance with Rotary is exciting and allows both organizations to leverage our unique and similar strengths,” says Deepak Menon, Toastmasters’ 2019-20 International President. “We look forward to providing our current and prospective members with ongoing additional offerings that meet their evolving needs.”

With its first unofficial meeting held in Bloomington, Ill., in March 1905, Toastmasters is a global nonprofit organization with more than 16,800 clubs in 143 countries. Its members attend club meetings where they learn how to be more confident speakers, communicators and leaders. Toastmasters’ vision for the ongoing collaboration with Rotary is to change more lives for the better, and positively impact communities around the world.

“Collaborating with Toastmasters will provide our members with even more opportunities to develop and improve their leadership and communication skills,” said John Hewko, general secretary and CEO of Rotary International. “In turn, members of Toastmasters can connect with more people, take advantage of new speaking and learning opportunities, and make a difference in their communities through Rotary.”

Rotary provides its members opportunities to develop professionally, gain world understanding, and make lifelong friendships – all while volunteering to improve lives and bring lasting, positive change to communities.

Founded in 1905 in Chicago, Ill., Rotary is a global network of people committed to improving lives and bringing positive, lasting change. Each year, Rotary members contribute millions of dollars and volunteer hours to promote health, peace and prosperity in communities across the globe. Through volunteering, they make lifelong friendships that transcend political, cultural and generational boundaries and foster global understanding and respect.

For FAQ and to learn more about this partnership, please visit www.toastmasters.org/Rotary.

For further information or interviews from Toastmasters International, please contact dolson@toastmasters.org or call +1720 619 5344.

For further information or interviews from Rotary International, please contact chanele.williams@rotary.org or call +1847 866 3466

About Toastmasters International: Toastmasters International is a worldwide nonprofit educational organization that empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. Headquartered in Englewood, Colo., the organization’s membership exceeds 358,000 in more than 16,800 clubs in 143 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators and leaders. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org. Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.

About Rotary: Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping those in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. See www.rotary.org.

https://www.rotary.org/en/toastmasters-and-rotary-partner-help-members-grow

Container Loading October & November 2019

Each month Rotarian’s around the lower mainland help to load containers of gently used items to be sent to other clubs around the world and given to people in need. Containers pictured went to Havana Cuba.

 

Photos from October 2019 Container Loading

Photos from November Container Loading – Rotary District 5040’s 400th Container loading

 

Video from the 400th Container Loading

Rotary Youth Scholarship GoFundMe Fundraiser

To donate visit: GoFundMe Youth Scholarships

Rotary Club Lionsgate, established in 1975, is a service club dedicated to improving the lives of others both in our community and around the world. Located in North Vancouver one of the primary charitable initiatives is investing in our youth and future leaders. Through funding scholarships for undergraduate, graduate study and trades training we aim to help struggling youth get the education that they deserve.

Over the past 3 years we have raised over $23,190 and funded 22 scholarships for youth in desperate need of funds to help pay for furthering their education. Our scholarships are open to all students of the North Shore, including high school or other youth in need of education funding assistance, and or other aid support. Students go through a formal application process and funding decisions are based on a review or suitable applications.

We have had overwhelming demand from high school and other youth for scholarships, but we have not been able to fully meet the fundraising goals required to give all deserving students scholarship opportunities.

We are hoping through that this campaign we can raise enough funds to give scholarships to another 5 North Shore youth.

The Rotary Lionsgate Foundation is a registered charity and for donations of $25 or more we can issue tax receipts.

The Sustainability Challenge

10 years into the Rotary-USAID water and sanitation partnership, here’s what worked, what didn’t — and why

By Diana Schoberg
Photography by Andrew Esiebo

An old piece of railroad track is laid across a pit toilet. The walls are crumbling. The stench is overwhelming. It’s the only toilet for a school in rural Ghana, and most children refuse to use it. They do their business outside instead — or quit school altogether.

This is an all-too-common experience: Half of Ghana’s population lives in rural areas, and only 10 percent of those people have access to basic sanitation. Two-thirds can obtain safe drinking water — after a 30-minute round trip.

Since 2009, Rotary has been working to fix those deficiencies through a partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The partnership combines the business skills and local community leadership of Rotarian volunteers with the technical expertise of USAID. Rotary is contributing $9 million to the $18 million partnership; outside of eradicating polio, it is Rotary’s largest partnership effort. “We wondered how these two organizations could come together and exploit the synergy between them,” says Rotarian Ron Denham, a member of the Rotary-USAID steering committee.

Ghana was one of three pilot countries when the program kicked off. Projects were implemented in two phases: Phase 1 concluded in 2013, and Phase 2 will end in 2020. “As a result of this partnership, we’ve been able to reach out to some very deprived communities,” says Emmanuel Odotei, WASH management specialist for USAID/Ghana. “If USAID had tried to do this alone, or if Rotary had done it alone, we would never have achieved as much as we have today.”

Throughout, the focus of the program has been on accomplishing three goals: improving sanitation and hygiene in schools and health facilities; increasing community access to safe drinking water; and advocating for ample government financing of WASH — that is, water, sanitation, and hygiene.

“We wondered how these two organizations could come together and exploit the synergy between them.”

  • By the numbers

    Rotary-USAID in Ghana

    (projected through 2020)

    174 latrine blocks (primarily in schools)

    166 community hand pumps

    6 mechanized boreholes

    3 reticulated water systems

    Benefiting more than 160,000 people

The installations and the number of people who benefited from the program were significant. But that’s only part of the story. The partnership also trained school health educators and community-based hygiene promoters to lead behavioral change campaigns that would deter open defecation (see page 38). It helped establish local committees to manage the water and sanitation systems after Rotary and USAID departed. And it empowered community leaders by showing them how to go to their district assemblies and demand that funds be allocated — and used — for water and sanitation services. “Rotarians are very well-connected,” says Alberto Wilde, the director in Ghana for Global Communities, a development agency contracted by USAID to implement the program in Ghana. “It’s easier for us to make changes in policy if we have the right people who can open doors with decision-makers.”

The scale of the program demanded the close involvement of more than 100 Rotarians. Roughly 30 of Ghana’s 50 Rotary clubs participated, and each of those clubs assigned members to remain engaged throughout its involvement. Each club supervises the implementation of multiple projects, some of which might be a six-hour drive away along dirt roads that are impassable in the rainy season. “Rotarians are making big sacrifices for the projects,” says Ako Odotei, a member of the Rotary Club of Tema and the Phase 2 chair of the host committee of local Rotarians directing the partnership alongside USAID. “These projects are their babies.”

Last summer, representatives of the partnership toured some of the communities where it had implemented projects. As is the case globally in the water and sanitation sector, some of the projects were successful and some were failures. Most were somewhere in between. Some of the lessons learned are described on the following pages — lessons that can help ensure success in future programs.

https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-usaid-sustainability-challenge

Rotary provides millions in polio funding as wild poliovirus type 3 is eradicated

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US$50 million will impact over 38 million children as the program reaches two key milestones: wild poliovirus type 3 eradication and Africa reaching three years with no wild poliovirus transmission

EVANSTON, Ill. (October 30, 2019) — Rotary is giving US$50 million in grants to support the global effort to end polio. The funding will provide surveillance, technical assistance, and operational support for immunization activities, and will reach up to 38.4 million children with polio immunizations. The funding comes on the heels of the announcement that wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) has been eradicated globally.

WPV3 is just the third human disease-causing pathogen to be eradicated in history, and the announcement means that there is just one remaining strain of wild polio left that continues to affect children. Rotary and its Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners reached another major milestone in August, when Nigeria reached three years without a case of wild poliovirus, thus opening the door for the entire African region to be certified wild polio-free sometime in 2o20.

“Both of these milestones are critical steps towards the ultimate goal of a polio-free world,” said Michael K. McGovern, chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee. “The eradication of wild poliovirus type 3 and Nigeria’s good news demonstrate tremendous progress, but there is still much work to be done as we address the increase in cases in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In the face of challenges, reaching these historic benchmarks shows us that polio eradication is possible, and it’s important that we harness this momentum to secure the funding and political support needed to end polio for good.”

Grants announced today will support ongoing eradication efforts in Nigeria as well as other African countries. Grants will also be directed to efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Funding will be distributed as follows:

Country/project, Grant

  • African Regional Surveillance, $6.3 million
  • Cameroon, $4.1 million
  • Chad, $3.3 million
  • DR Congo, $3.4 million
  • Niger, $8.2 million
  • Nigeria, $491,153
  • Afghanistan, $4.6 million
  • Pakistan, $4.8 million
  • Somalia, $4.6 million
  • mOPV2 Stockpile, $10.3 million

Rotary has committed to raising $50 million a year to be matched 2-to-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, amounting to $150 million for polio eradication annually.

While only Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to report cases of wild poliovirus, the remaining challenges to global eradication—like difficulty reaching children amid insecurity and conflict and weak health systems—have proven to be the most difficult. In order to meet these roadblocks head on and ensure the continuation of program efforts, the GPEI is hosting a pledging event at the Reaching the Last Mile Forum in Abu Dhabi, at which world leaders will gather and announce their commitment to ending polio for good.

Rotary has contributed more than $2 billion to fight polio, and countless volunteer hours since launching its polio eradication program, PolioPlus, in 1985. In 1988, Rotary formed the GPEI with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Gates Foundation later joined. Since the initiative launched, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases in 1988 to fewer than 100 cases this year.

About Rotary: Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. We connect 1.2 million members from more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in almost every country in the world. Their service improves lives both locally and internationally, from helping those in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. Visit Rotary.org and endpolio.org for more about Rotary and its efforts to eradicate polio.

Contact: Audrey Carl, audrey.carl@rotary.org

https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-provides-millions-polio-funding-wild-poliovirus-type-3-eradicated

World Polio Day cheers major achievements toward global polio eradication

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By Ryan Hyland

Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) are celebrating a major milestone this World Polio Day: confirmation that a second type of the wild poliovirus has been eradicated, which is a significant step toward the ultimate goal of a polio-free world.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced the historic feat in a video address during Rotary’s Global Online Update on 24 October. He said an independent commission of health experts certified the global eradication of the type 3 strain, which hasn’t been detected anywhere in the world since Nigeria identified a case of polio that it caused in November 2012. The type 2 strain was certified as eradicated in 2015.

“That leaves just wild poliovirus type 1,” Tedros said. He also commended Rotary’s long fight against polio. “Everything you [Rotary] have done has brought us to the brink of a polio-free world.”

Tedros balanced the good news with a note of caution, saying that the biggest enemy of global eradication is complacency. He encouraged Rotary members to redouble their efforts.

Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative have helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children against polio in 122 countries.

“We must stay the course. Together, we can make sure the children of the future only learn about polio in history books.”

“If we stopped now, the virus would resurge and could once again cause more than 200,000 new cases every year,” said Tedros. “We must stay the course. Together, we can make sure the children of the future only learn about polio in history books.”

Rotary’s World Polio Day program this year was streamed on Facebook in multiple languages and multiple time zones around the world. The program, which was sponsored by UNICEF USA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, featured TV presenter and Paralympic medalist Ade Adepitan, supermodel Isabeli Fontana, science educator Bill Nye, and actress Archie Panjabi.

The program also featured never-before-seen footage of three Rotary members working to protect children from polio in their home countries of India, Pakistan, and Ukraine. In Pakistan, Rotarian Tayyaba Gul works with a team of health workers to educate mothers and children about the importance of polio vaccination. Dr. Hemendra Verma of India encourages his fellow Rotary members and our partners to make sure health workers and volunteers reach every child. And Ukrainian Rotarian Sergii Zavadskyi oversees an advocacy and awareness program that uses social media and public events to educate people who are reluctant to have their children vaccinated. These three heroes of the polio eradication effort show what it means to be a dedicated volunteer, and represent the efforts of Rotarians all over the world.

Rotary members and heroes in the fight to eradicate polio, from left, Tayyaba Gul, Dr. Hemendra Verma, and Sergil Zavadskyi.

Adepitan, a polio survivor who contracted the disease as a child in Nigeria, praised the efforts in that country, which hasn’t reported finding wild poliovirus in more than three years. “This is massive news,” Adepitan said.

Nigeria’s milestone clears the way for the entire WHO African region to be certified wild poliovirus-free next year. Adepitan reminded people just how far the continent has come, saying that even a decade ago, Africa reported nearly 75 percent of all polio cases worldwide.

“Today more than a billion African people are at the cusp of a future where wild polio is a disease of the past,” he said. “We’re not done. We’re in pursuit of an even greater triumph — a world without polio. I can’t wait.”

Scientist Bill Nye talked about some people’s reluctance to use vaccines, which he called a dangerous issue around the world. “As the conversation around vaccines becomes more hostile, we’re seeing an increase in outbreaks of preventable diseases. It’s not just measles. It’s rotavirus. Tetanus. Even polio,” he said. However, he said: “The science on vaccinations is settled. There is no dispute.”

Look even just at what Rotary and its partners have achieved since 1988, when the GPEI was formed, Nye said. Three decades ago, the disease affected 350,000 children in one year. Because of massive vaccination campaigns around the world, the number of polio cases has decreased by more than 99.9 percent.

“That’s about as concrete as evidence gets for preventative medicine,” Nye said.

[embedded content]

Rotary’s 2019 World Polio Day Global Online Update highlights the frontline workers who make polio eradication possible and the milestones that the program achieved this past year.

2019 proves that challenges remain

Despite these accomplishments, polio cases are rising in areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan that face tremendous challenges: They are difficult to get to and travel in, they are often not secure enough for vaccinators to do their work, and people are highly mobile. In all of 2018, these two countries reported just 33 wild poliovirus cases. The 2019 case count is so far 88, and health experts predict more cases to come.

Michel Zaffran, director of polio eradication at WHO, discussed the increased number of cases in Afghanistan and Pakistan. “At its core, polio eradication is very simple: If you vaccinate enough children in given areas, then the virus has nowhere to hide and eventually disappears,” Zaffran said.

It gets more complicated, he said, when thousands of children are not being vaccinated in some areas. “The reasons vary greatly, district to district, in both countries,” he added. “It could be because there is hampered access due to insecurity, lack of infrastructure, lack of clean water supply, inadequate planning of campaigns, community resistance, and other reasons.”

To combat any further spread of the disease, Zaffran says health workers are evaluating each area to understand why a child is missed and making customized plans to overcome the area’s specific challenges.

This approach is similar to how health experts overcame the last hurdles in India, which was declared polio-free in 2014.

“I encourage Rotary members everywhere to stick with it and stay optimistic,” Zaffran said. “Keep raising funds and awareness, advocate with governments. We truly are on the cusp of eradicating a disease for only the second time in human history.”

If it is eradicated, polio would follow smallpox as the second human disease eliminated from the world.

Rotary has contributed more than $2 billion to polio eradication since it launched the PolioPlus program in 1985, and is committed to raising $50 million a year for polio eradication activities. Because of a 2-to-1 matching agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that means that $150 million a year goes toward fulfilling Rotary’s promise to the children of the world: no child will ever again suffer the devastating effects of polio.

https://www.rotary.org/en/world-polio-day-cheers-achievements-toward-polio-eradication

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