Waconia/West Carver Rotary hears about polio success

RotaryCMYKMembers of the Waconia-West Carver Rotary Club reaffirmed the international Rotary Club organization’s commitment to eradicate polio world-wide following a recent presentation by Tim Mulcrone, a retired law enforcement official, who is the Rotary Club District Chair for the Rotary Polio Plus initiative.
After 25 years of hard work, Rotary and its partners are on the brink of eradicating this tenacious disease, but Mulcrone believes a strong push is needed now to root it out once and for all.
He describes it as a window of opportunity of historic proportions. Rotary’s 108th anniversary on Feb. 23 marks a year of both achievements in the fight to eradicate polio and a stepped-up commitment to finish the job. In addition to contributing more than US$1 billion to the initiative since 1985, Rotary International has helped solicit over $9 billion in support from donor governments. Such advocacy is crucial to finishing the job, as Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) faces a funding gap of $700 million this year.
Worldwide, 222 polio cases were reported in 2012, a little more than one-third of the 650 cases reported in 2011. Overall, the annual incidence of polio has decreased more than 99 percent since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched in 1988. At that time, polio infected about 350,000 children per year.
Polio remains endemic in only three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
But because non-endemic countries remain at risk for cases imported from those three, immunization must continue everywhere to ensure that polio is eradicated worldwide. As long as polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, children everywhere remain at risk, according to Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general for Polio, Emergencies and Country Collaboration at the World Health Organization (WHO).
Discussing the successes of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) — in which Rotary and WHO collaborate with UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Mulcrone cited India, which has not had a reported case of polio in two years. In February, WHO removed India from the list of polio-endemic countries, disproving the experts who had maintained that polio could not be eradicated there. If continuing tests of polio cases recorded through January 2013 continue to yield negative results, WHO will declare that India has interrupted transmission of indigenous wild poliovirus for the second consecutive year.
In addition to leadership from world-wide Rotary Clubs, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is contributing C$1 to the GPEI for every dollar raised by Canadian Rotarians, up to $1 million.
“You have been given the greatest opportunity in history to end this disease,” Rotarians were told. “We can only finish with Rotary’s leadership.”