2022 01 04 | Host: Loredana | Polio Eradication Update

Secretary Loredana Eisenhauer hosted an October 2021 video updating where the polio eradication fight stands. Time magazine Editor at Large Jeffrey Kluger interviewed Dr Hamid Jafari of the World Health Organization (WHO). “The effort to eradicate polio is one of the world’s largest public health campaigns.”

The WHO leads the campaign, with help from several important partners – Rotary International being one of them.

2021 saw fewer cases of wild polio than ever – only one case each in Afghanistan & Pakistan. Though most parts of the world have been declared polio-free, these two countries, & a few others, remain at risk. Vaccine-derived cases, & the impact of Covid-19 make total eradication more complex, as immunizations were suspended through parts of 2020 & 2021.

Recent upgrades to the vaccines make it much less likely polio may be derived from the vaccines. The resumption of immunizations & the impact of Covid-restricted travel, will both help to reduce the spread of polio. The neutrality & impartiality of WHO & Rotary partners has been recognized by Afghanistan, Pakistan, & other countries, not normally receptive to “western” initiatives, allowing immunizations to proceed. Moreover, lessons learned through the End Polio Now campaign have helped with Covid vaccinations.

A larger goal is to improve the efficacy & delivery of basic health services to places where conflict & insecurity remain obstacles. Rotary has been described as “the glue of the global polio education effort,” having been involved in fighting polio since 1979, & remaining committed to seeing the project completed.