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
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
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 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
Ann Lee Hussey administers polio drops to a child in Chad in 2014.
By Rotary Voices staff
Stories from polio survivors remind us why we have spent three decades committed to the pursuit of wiping this crippling disease from the face of the earth. Below is a brief summary and a link to a few of those stories shared on Rotary Voices and elsewhere. Also watch our World Polio Day global update to see how close we are to ending polio.
Ann Lee Hussey contracted polio when she was 17 months old. A member of the Rotary Club of Portland Sunrise, Maine, USA, she has taken part in countless National Immunization Day Continue reading
Ethiopian children watch the immunization volunteers.
By Corinne Cavanaugh
As I walked up to a pile of dirt bricks beside a cottage in a small village in Ethiopia, I noticed two things immediately: the telltale odor of farming and the mouth sores of four small children. I will never forget the moment I saw those children, the first of many who received two life-saving drops of polio vaccine.
Polio is a virus that attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis, usually of the legs. In a developing country, polio paralysis could mean crawling around Continue reading
By Sujan Pradhan
In June, members of my Rotary Club of Kakarvitta, Jhapa, Nepal, inspected 15 polio immunization booths around the municipality of Mechinagar, on the border of Nepal and India. The Nepal PolioPlus Committee had declared a National Immunization Day on 23 May, but due to the major earthquake in April, our inspection was postponed to early June. We visited booths from urban areas to far rural areas, and distributed banners, pamphlets, and water bottles to the volunteers at each booth. Continue reading
Editor’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. Continue reading
By Kerry Jacobson
I feel more urgently than ever the need to share how polio impacted my life. In 1952, I contracted bulbar-polio, the rarest and most dangerous of the strains of the polio virus. I had just turned 7. I caught the virus from a neighborhood friend of my older sister who had been playing at our house and then was admitted to the hospital with polio.
A week later, I was in our family doctor’s office to hear the diagnosis: bulbar polio — very critical. My mother and I were sent on to Mercy Hospital. I remember being quickly taken from my mother, put in a wheelchair, whisked away to a nearby room with other children, and then wheeled past a group of onlookers, including my mother, who were kept separate from us behind a rope to prevent contact. Continue reading