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This is the longest the country 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 since the bleak years when the virus reached its peak. It was only a decade ago that polio struck 12,631 people in Africa- three quarters of all cases in the world.
We congratulate Rotarians who have donated $688.5 million to fight polio throughout Africa, including more than $200 million to Nigeria. We congratulate Rotarians from Africa and around the world who have also devoted countless hours to immunize the children who now have the opportunity for healthier, happier lives.
With the ambitious scope of Rotary’s PolioPlus program, our efforts are having a far-reaching, transformative impact beyond the eradication of polio.
With the infrastructure put in place by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), Nigeria not only reduced its polio caseload by 90% in 2014, but it also successfully thwarted the world’s most lethal Ebola outbreak to date, in only 90 days, a response faster than even the U.S., and rightly praised by the World Health Organization as ‘world-class’.
In Nigeria and elsewhere, the Initiative provides a blueprint to reach all children with a package of lifesaving vaccines and health interventions. This is a vital step on the path to human development, as we know that with improved public health, more resources can be channeled towards education and economic growth.
If the stringent World Health Organization testing criteria are met, then Nigeria could be removed from the list of polio-endemic countries in September of this year.
However, our work is not done. We know that polio can easily return, with devastating consequences, if we don’t stamp it out now.
We must act, as Rotarians do, to build on the progress made and stop polio once and for all. We have a narrow window of opportunity to achieve this, and if we fail, we could witness up to 200,000 cases a year in the near future.
So how can we finally make history and end polio now?
Today, we must protect the progress made in Nigeria, and support Pakistan and Afghanistan, the other two remaining polio-endemic countries.
Protecting progress means enhancing surveillance, routine immunization, and community engagement in Nigeria and other countries where transmission has been stopped.
Supporting Pakistan and Afghanistan means full political and financial commitment to eradicating polio; vaccination of all children in these countries; high quality surveillance, and the accomplishment of all the expert recommendations as part of the GPEI’s Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan.
- Public Image: Make a concerted effort to advertise the activities, service, and charitable giving of Rotary and our club. Provide our own coverage on social media and the web. Objective: Receive media coverage for 10 events, service activities, charitable giving, and programs during the Rotary year.
- Service: Revitalize our service projects and recognition efforts. Objective: Perform a minimum of 8 significant service/sponsorship events.
- Fundraising: Fine-tune our fundraising events to maximize net proceeds. Consider adding another fundraiser. Objective: Net $20,000 from our fundraising activities.
- Charity: Emphasis on Rotary achievements and giving. Objective: Give $13,480 to The Rotary Foundation Annual Fund and $3960 to PolioPlus.
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