From the September 2015 issue of The Rotarian
Eradicating polio is a complex job. Since 1988, we’ve collaborated with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF to tackle the disease through our Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Here’s how our roles break down.
The Strategist: WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) coordinates the management and administration of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and provides technical and operational support to ministries of health in countries around the world. WHO is responsible for monitoring our progress and strategic planning.
The Virus Hunter: CDC
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deploys epidemiologists, public health experts, and scientists to investigate outbreaks of polio, identify the strain of poliovirus involved, and pinpoint its geographic origin.
The Immunizer: UNICEF
UNICEF buys polio vaccine and manages its distribution. The agency spreads the word about the benefits of vaccination to gain community acceptance – a process known as social mobilization. On the ground, field workers immunize children with the help of local health workers and volunteers such as Rotarians.
The Advocate: Rotary
Rotary uses its members’ business acumen and passion for volunteerism to build awareness, fundraise, and encourage national governments to donate to and otherwise support the polio eradication effort. More than one million Rotary members have volunteered their time and personal resources to help end polio.
Our other partners
WHO, CDC, UNICEF, and Rotary spearheaded the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, but many other partners help us work toward our vision of a polio-free world.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: The Gates Foundation is a core partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. It is the largest private funding source of the GPEI, contributing over $1.9 billion to the fight against polio. The Gates Foundation will match all donations to Rotary for polio two to one, up to $35 million per year, through 2018.
National governments: Governments are the largest donors to the polio eradication effort. Without the financial support of governments worldwide, and especially political support in polio-endemic and at-risk countries, we could not administer the polio vaccine.
Local health workers: Local health workers often risk their lives to vaccinate children. For example, women in Pakistan receive training to go door to door, speaking to mothers about the benefits of the vaccine. They address fears and help bring the vaccine into remote communities.
Gavi: Gavi is an international vaccine alliance that brings vaccines to some of the world’s poorest countries. It is working with the GPEI to introduce at least one dose of the injectable inactivated polio vaccine into the routine immunization schedule.