Whilst the world is full of bad news and everyone is doing what they can to deal with COVID-19, Rotary International recently made the good news announcement that the African region has been certified wild polio-virus-free.
Rotary members around the world have played an invaluable role in the effort to rid the African region of wild polio and should all be proud of all the hard work that has been done to eliminate the wild polio-virus throughout Africa and in nearly every country in the world.
This progress is the result of a decades-long effort across the 47 countries of the African region. It has involved millions of health workers travelling by foot, boat, bike and bus, innovative strategies to vaccinate children amid conflict and insecurity, and a huge disease surveillance network to test cases of paralysis and check sewage for the virus.
Over the last two decades, countless Rotary members in countries across the African region and around the world have worked together to raise funds, immunise children, advocate with local and national leaders, and raise awareness about the importance of vaccination, enabling the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to effectively respond to and stop polio outbreaks.
This milestone is an incredible public health achievement for Rotary members, the African region, and GPEI partners, and a huge step forward on the road to global polio eradication. But there is still important work to do in order to eradicate wild polio in the last two endemic countries.
Many challenges have been faced on the journey to eradicate polio but remarkable progress has been made, and the polio infrastructure that Rotarians helped build will serve as a lasting legacy that will continue to help protect vulnerable children against other diseases for decades to come.
Rotary International is now calling on everyone to recommit themselves to ending polio totally. They need each and every one of us to help finish the fight and continue raising $50 million each year for PolioPlus. The eradication of wild polio in the African region shows that polio eradication is achievable, and shows how hard work, partnerships and financial commitment continue to propel things forward, even during a global pandemic.
Rotary International thanks everyone for their continued efforts, for achieving a wild polio-free African region, and for remaining committed to fulfilling their promise of a polio-free world.