P olio eradication is within our grasp. But if we don’t eradicate the disease now, the risk of crippling and deadly polio outbreaks will continue to threaten the world’s children. You can help Rotary get the job done by contributing to Rotary’s PolioPlus program or creating awareness of polio.
Challenges to polio eradication
Health experts agree that these primary challenges must be overcome in order to reach the goal of polio eradication:
- Halting the spread of the poliovirus in the three remaining endemic countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan), which continue to export it to polio-free areas
- Curbing the intense spread of the poliovirus in northern Nigeria and Pakistan
- Rapidly stopping polio outbreaks in previously polio-free countries
- Addressing low routine-immunization rates and surveillance gaps in polio-free areas
- Maintaining funding and political commitment to implement the eradication strategies
Four key strategies for stopping poliovirus transmission
1. Routine immunization
High infant-immunization coverage with four doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) in the first year of life is critical. Routine immunization is essential because it's the primary way that polio-free countries protect their children from the threat of imported polio. Read more about the bivalent oral polio vaccine.
2. National Immunization Days
For decades, Rotary’s PolioPlus program has been one of the driving forces during National Immunization Days, or NIDs. Rotarians are involved in myriad ways before, during, and after an NID, by providing funds for millions of drops of vaccine, promoting upcoming campaigns in the community, distributing vaccine to local health centers, serving as monitors, working with local officials to reach every child, and participating in surveillance efforts.
Rotarians play an important role in working with health workers, pediatricians, and others to find, report, and investigate cases of acute flaccid paralysis in timely manner (ideally within 48 hours of onset). PolioPlus sometimes helps fund containers that preserve the integrity of stool samples during transport to laboratories. The program has also played a leading role in providing equipment for the global poliovirus laboratory.
4. Targeted mop-up campaigns
Rotary’s support of mop-up campaigns is similar to NID volunteering, but on a smaller, often "house-to-house," scale.