We can eradicate polio by working together

Hugh Evans is CEO of the Global Poverty Project

Hugh Evans, CEO of the Global Poverty Project, will be a keynote speaker at the 2012 RI Convention in Bangkok, Thailand, 6-9 May.

By Hugh Evans, founder and CEO of the Global Poverty Project.

One percent.

That’s all that’s left of the world’s polio. Thanks to a global partnership involving governments, the World Health Organization, Rotary International, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the total number of polio cases worldwide has gone from 350,000 a year prior to 1988, to just 650 in 2011.

That is a truly amazing feat.

India’s recent success has proven that eradication is possible. Not so long ago, people thought that India would be the last place on earth to stop transmission of the disease. Yet despite the difficulties, the four partner agencies of the GPEI, the Indian Government and the Indian people worked together to see it done.

Four endemic countries are now three – how long until it’s two? Then one? Then zero?

Getting down to zero will be tough. As in India, it will require ongoing commitment – from the governments of both polio-affected and donor countries, from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, from the health workers on the ground and from the general public everywhere.

Polio not only disproportionately affects some of the world’s poorest, but it can drag the children it paralyses further into poverty. That’s why, at the Global Poverty Project, we’re committed to assisting the GPEI in any way we can to eradicate this potentially deadly, yet entirely preventable disease.

We are looking forward to working further with Rotary International. It’s amazing how much Rotary has been able to achieve – US$1 billion in funds raised and more than one million volunteers working to lobby governments, assist in polio-affected countries, raise funds and awareness. And that’s not to mention that the very idea of a world without polio began with a Rotarian.

We stand on the shoulders of giants. Our work simply seeks to build on the amazing progress that has already achieved. Because we truly believe that, by working together, the world can eradicate polio.

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