Last year’s Miles to End Polio team on ride day.
By John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary
On 19 November, a team of Rotary staff and I will join Rotary members from Arizona (District 5500) and around the world to cycle up to 104 miles in El Tour de Tucson to raise funds for polio eradication.
The event is one of the top cycling events in the U.S., attracting more than 9,000 cyclists each year. We are aiming to raise $3.4 million, which will be tripled by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a total of more than $10 million for the fight to end polio. Continue reading
The Emergency Operations Center in Abuja, Nigeria, kicks into action.
By Chris Offer, Rotary Club of Ladner, British Columbia, Canada
In late August 2016, I had the extraordinary opportunity to be in the National Polio Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Abuja, Nigeria. The center was activated to manage the response to two polio cases confirmed in Borno State.
I was in Nigeria as part of a Polio External Review team with the World Health Organization, CDC, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that had been planned months before. But with the discovery of new polio cases, our focus shifted. Continue reading
Peggy Tingle with Neal Beard (left) and Keith Rohling, president-elect of the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club.
By Neal Beard, a member of the Rotary Club of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, USA
“I was 18 when I contracted the disease,” Peggy said, as she spoke into a lowered, stationary microphone set up at the front of our meeting room. She spoke from a motorized wheelchair, reading from her notes.
Peggy was the guest speaker at our club meeting recently, and her story underscored for me why we need to remain committed to eradicating this terrible disease of polio. Statistics are one thing, but when you hear someone’s story who has battled the disease, it takes your emotional resolve to a completely different level. Continue reading
Ann Lee Hussey and children in Nigeria
By Ann Lee Hussey, a member of the Rotary Club of Portland Sunrise, Maine, USA
Polio can affect children anywhere. The poliovirus doesn’t discriminate based on geography, skin color, or religion. If we don’t eradicate polio now, the world could see cases rebound to 200,000 new cases every year, within 10 years.
I’ve participated in 27 immunization campaigns, leading 23, throughout Africa and Asia, not because I’m a polio survivor, but because I believe polio eradication will be one of our greatest gifts to future generations. Continue reading
Bill Pollard and his mom, Joan, president of the Rotary Club of Petersburg.
By Bill Pollard, past governor of District 7600 and a member of the Rotary Club of Churchland – Portsmouth, Virginia, USA
In 1988 at the age of 25, I was invited by Tommy Adkins, a retired banker and neighbor of my parents, to a meeting of the Rotary Club of Petersburg, Virginia. I had just started my banking career in my hometown of Petersburg and I remember calling my mom, Joan Pollard, asking her about Rotary. I recall her telling me it was a service oriented club and that my mom and dad had friends in the club.
We discussed it for a few minutes and I told my mom I would go because it would help Continue reading
Amina Ismail, right, checks appointment registers for cases of polio – an essential part of surveillance efforts to trace this devastating disease. WHO/L.Dore
By Michael Zaffran, director of polio eradication for the World Health Organization
In a small health clinic in Tharaka Nithi, Kenya, Amina Ismail pours over a register documenting all of the doctors’ appointments from recent months, a nurse by her side. She is checking every record for symptoms of polio – the sudden onset, floppy arms and legs that signify acute flaccid paralysis.
As they work, she checks that the nurse knows what the symptoms are, and that she knows what she has to do if a child with acute flaccid paralysis is brought to the clinic. This detailed surveillance for polio, working hand in hand with those who know their communities best of all, has been the linchpin of the work of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). Continue reading
By Rotary communications staff
How do you tell the story of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in comic-book form? That was the challenge that four Rotary staffers – Chris Brown, Brad Cowan, Kate Benzschawel and Stuart Cleland — faced in the summer of 2015. They needed an angle that would cover the major aspects of the GPEI’s work. But it had to be a story, not just a list of organizations and achievements. Continue reading
Rotary clubs worldwide marked the 111th anniversary of the first Rotary club meeting by holding an event, hosting a fundraiser, or lighting a notable building. Thanks to the more than 70 clubs that sent us photos of their events, some of which are shown above. We could not use them all, but clubs are also posting their photos on Facebook using #RI111.
In February, Michel Zaffran will take over as director of polio eradication for the World Health Organization (WHO). Most recently, Zaffran has served as coordinator of WHO’s Expanded Programme on Immunization. He has also served as Deputy Executive Secretary of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI), and represented WHO on the working group that designed and launched GAVI. We caught up with him recently to ask his thoughts about this new challenge:
I am extremely excited, but also emotionally very moved, to have been selected for this position. I started working for the World Health Organization in September of 1987 in the immunization program. A few months later in May the World Health Assembly endorsed the resolution to actually eradicate polio. I was just at a very junior level but remember seeing my bosses work on the resolution, and so I was there from the very beginning. So to actually toward the end of my career be coming back and heading the program for its last miles basically is very exciting and very moving. Continue reading
By David Goodstone, Rotary senior writer
As a writer, I’m always looking for metaphors and similes, especially in unfamiliar places, searching for the right phrase to tell a story.
On my first Rotary trip to India with Rotary Polio Ambassador Minda Dentler, the story I was seeking to tell was the work of Rotary members and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. My task was easy. For in India’s sights, objects, and even signs, rich metaphors are abundant.
Take this sign on the back of a ubiquitous Tata truck: “Obey the Traffic Rules.”
Tata truck in India