WHO’s new director of polio eradication: the end is in sight

Michel ZaffranIn 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

A Rotary Passage to India

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.”

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Tata truck in India

Continue reading

How your year-end gift to the Foundation does a world of good

Students at their desks

Students sit at new desks that were provided through a grant organized by the Rotary Clubs of Bikaner, Rajasthan, India, and Kennebunk Portside, Maine, USA

By Rotary Voices staff

There’s still time to make your year-end gift to The Rotary Foundation. Here are a few ways that your support is helping to change lives all over the world: Continue reading

The Big Ride

Gary Hirsch and Marga Hewko, wife of Rotary General Secretary John Hewko, take a selfie during the ride.

Gary Hirsch and Marga Hewko, wife of Rotary General Secretary John Hewko, take a selfie during the ride.

By Gary Hirsch, a member of the Rotary Club of Tucson, Arizona, USA

In many ways, the 2015 Ride to End Polio by Rotarians in District 5500 was “The Big Ride.” Maybe it’s that Rotary members’ commitment grows each year. Maybe it’s just that the fellowship, fun, fitness, and collaborative spirit bring out the best in each of us. Whatever it is, the numbers say that this, the sixth year of our event, was the biggest in every way.

Although overall ridership in El Tour de
Tucson was down about 7,000 cyclists Continue reading

5 reasons to give to The Rotary Foundation

Polio immunization activities in Ethiopia. Your generous giving supports our work to rid the world of polio.

Polio immunization in Ethiopia. Your generous giving supports our work to rid the world of polio.

By Rotary Voices staff

When you make a donation to The Rotary Foundation, you are helping Rotary members make a difference in the lives of millions of people around the world, by promoting peace, preventing disease, bolstering economic development, and providing clean water and sanitation.

Here are just a few ways your generosity is changing lives. Continue reading

Rotary Scholar urges alumni to stay connected

Kathleen Plaza's own This Close portrait

Kathleen Plaza’s own This Close portrait

By Kathleen Plaza, Rotary Scholar

I was born and raised in a rural barrio (neighborhood) in Mindanao, Philippines. I moved to Guam when I was about 18 years old. I became a member of the Rotaract Club of the Marianas in Guam when I was completing my undergrad degree in biology, and served as secretary in 2011-12 and as youth services director in 2012-13.

I moved to Hawaii in August 2015, and with a Rotary Scholarship funded by a global grant, began taking classes in public health, focused on disease prevention and treatment. I will finish my program in May 2017. Continue reading

The tale of two fundraising rides

Kristin Brown, center, her husband, Mahmoud Ajamia -- who will also be riding in Tucson -- and Marga Hewko at the bottom of a steep hill on a recent training ride.

Kristin Brown, center, her husband, Mahmoud Ajamia, — who will also be riding in Tucson — and Marga Hewko at the bottom of a steep hill on a recent training ride.

By Kristin Brown

I am really excited to be returning to Tucson, Arizona, USA, this week for my second Miles to End Polio event and to join forces with the Rotarians cycling so that others may walk.

It has been an eventful year in the fight to End Polio Now. Nigeria achieved a milestone in July when it passed an entire year without a new case of polio caused by the wild poliovirus. And cases in the two remaining endemic countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, are at an all-time low. But now more than ever, we need to keep the pressure on. One of my biggest concerns is that people will become complacent and fail to recognize the threat that remains if we don’t completely eradicate this disease. Continue reading

We’re at a pivotal moment in history for ending polio

151112_stanulaBy Jean Stanula

When I was a kid, it seemed like “making a difference” was easy. I can recall asking for pledges for Jump Rope for Heart to raise money for the American Heart Association, and carrying a fish food jar converted into a donation canister around the neighborhood to collect nickels to help the American Cancer Society find a cure. I had a natural desire to give to others. Continue reading

No debate when it comes to ending polio

Scott Daniels on a training ride.

Scott Daniels on a training ride.

By Scott Daniels

What I remember most is the fear. I was too small to recall all the details, but when I was a child, polio struck the eastern Iowa community where I grew up.

When it hit, people took action. Parents kept their kids at home. The swimming pool shut down. You couldn’t play with the neighbor kids. One of our family friend’s kids contracted the disease. I can vividly remember parents and teachers being concerned about transmission of the virus.

There was no debate in my family over whether or not to vaccinate. You either did or you ran the risk of contracting the disease. We are blessed in the United States to Continue reading

The face of polio immunization in Pakistan

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By Rotary Voices staff

Nigeria’s last case of polio caused by the wild poliovirus was reported on 24 July 2014, and the African continent has had no reported cases since 11 August 2014. The World Health Organization (WHO) removed Nigeria from the list of polio-endemic countries on 25 September. When Nigeria and every country in Africa have gone three years without a case of polio, WHO will certify the region as polio-free. Continue reading