A milestone for polio eradication

150724_mcgovernEditor’s Note: This post, first published in July, has been revised to reflect the new milestone reached in our fight to eradicate polio, and to celebrate Membership and New Club Development Month. Rotary members have many opportunities to make a difference, including being part of history as we seek a polio-free world. Rotary members have led the way in fundraising, advocacy, and lining up volunteer support for polio eradication.

By Michael McGovern, chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee

Africa has now marked a full year with no new cases of polio caused by the wild poliovirus anywhere on the continent.

This is the longest the continent has ever gone without a case of polio and a critical step on the path toward a polio-free Africa. We’ve come a long way; it was only a decade ago that polio struck 12,631 people in Africa – three-quarters of all cases in the world.

A vaccinator in Maiduguri looks for children that were missed during the mop up phase of an immunization drive in Northern Nigeria. Photo by Diego Ibarra Sánchez

A vaccinator looks for children that were missed during the mop up phase of a polio immunization drive in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Photo by Diego Ibarra Sánchez

Last year, thanks to its extensive polio eradication infrastructure, Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, was able to reduce polio cases by 90 percent and thwart the deadly Ebola virus with a swift, “world-class” response.

I had the privilege of speaking earlier this year at the UN Economic and Social Council about Rotary’s work as part of the Global Polio Eradication
Initiative. The UN wanted to hear from the most successful partnerships in the world of human development, and it was a great honor to talk about the achievements in which you have all played a part.

Rotary members have led the way when it comes to fundraising, advocacy, raising awareness, and generating volunteer support to tackle polio. We’ve partnered with the best in the world to get the job done – the World Health Organization, UNICEF, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Our role as constituents in both the polio-affected countries and the countries whose governments help fund the effort has ensured that all partners in the initiative have maintained their political commitment and financial backing for the drive to eradicate polio from the human experience.

Rotary members have also been extremely generous, donating $688.5 million to fight polio throughout Africa, including more than $200 million to Nigeria.

However, if we stop now, all our work could be easily undone. We must do all we can to protect the progress made in Nigeria. The World Health Organization demands three years of no new polio cases before we can safely say that Nigeria and the African region are free of polio.

We must also do all we can to support Pakistan and Afghanistan, the other two remaining polio-endemic countries.

Protecting progress means enhancing surveillance, routine immunization, and community engagement, while eradicating polio in endemic countries requires all this and more. If we are to make history, we need to ensure every child is vaccinated without fail.

Visit endpolio.org to download a tool kit of materials to help you share this progress – and the need for continued commitment in the coming years – with your Rotary club, your communities, and your elected officials.

The final push also requires substantial investment. Your donation to PolioPlus will be matched 2-to-1 by the Gates Foundation, tripling your contribution.

We are on the verge of eradicating a human disease for only the second time in history, after smallpox. Three decades ago, Rotary shared its vision for a polio-free world. Let’s make that vision come to life, today.

Read more about the Africa milestone

11 thoughts on “A milestone for polio eradication

  1. Pingback: Nigeria sees no wild polio cases for one year

  2. Thanks to you rotary and the other partnered organisations, polio cases globally is almost eradicated. I am sure that if you continue your efforts polio will be completely eradicated.


  3. This is the final round when we need to keep up our determination, energy and momentum to eradicate polio once and for all. More needs to be done–building awareness, advocacy and support to get the job done. Let us continue to push forward to make the world polio-free.


  4. This is an update from Mike McGovern from an authentic observatory no less than Rotary.It ‘s hugely boosting enough for us all in Nigeria and all volunteers and big givers that will make the progress effective and a marvelous milestone deserving recognition.Immunization Progress made in Pakistan too is very encouraging despite opposition from fundamentalists within the country.
    Gbemi Tijani D9125
    RC Oluyole Estate Ibadan Nigeria
    pp,phf,Rotian,PR Chair


  5. Thanks Mike for your leadership in keeping us informed and active in Rotary’s top priority – a polio free world. This is a day in which every Rotarian should take some pride but we cannot stop until the job is done.


  6. But we must not rest on our oars.Much resilience and sustained volunteering and more funding are vital to eradicate polio in Africa and Nigeria where the death knell is almost sure.


  7. We are almost there, but need a final push with more Energy, finance and determination and Rotary may institute special Prizes/Recognition in the affected region for the clubs


  8. Thanks. Its very interesting and encouraging . Useful information is provided by Mr. Michael . We feel proud of him for his extraordinary efforts towards eradication of deadly disease Polio.I belong to Pakistan and I understand the verse situation there. Now, since theNO GO areas are being cleared by our armed forces and a threat from TALEBAN is minimized, Pakistan has a better chance to get rid of polio. The world needs to focus on Pakistan and extend full support to provide infrastructure , economic and political support. I had the opportunity to speak on Polio eradication in Pakistan in Int. Rotary Convention held on UN Polio day (24th Oct) at Nörkopping . Proposed International Convention on POLIO ERADICATION and invite leaders of these three countries . It will create awareness and we can raise more funds and provide man power , funds and political support. Awais SheikhPeace AmbassadorCounsel of Indian prisonersPresident Pak-India Peace Initiatives Högsby, Sweden

    Date: Fri, 24 Jul 2015 13:54:07 +0000 To: awaissheikhadvocate@hotmail.com


  9. Pingback: A milestone for polio eradication in Nigeria | The Rotary Club of Carteret

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