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Thursday, July 16, 2009

A World Without Polio. (2000-15)

Paralytic Polio is caused by a virus which attacks the nerves in the spinal cord, culling off the impulse from the brain to the muscles and causing the affected muscle fibers to shrivel and die. The polio virus has only human beings as host. Inexpensive oral polio vaccine - OPV - can stop the virus and eradicate the dreaded disease of poliomyelitis for ever.
When the polio virus, the world\'s greatest crippler of children, is eradicated, the humanitarian and financial benefits ($ 1.5 billion annually) will be enormous.
Through immunization, great progress has been made in the war on polio. Allied in this cause are National Health Ministries and their workers, Rotary International, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations 3 Children\'s Fund (UNICEF), Donor Governments, Non Governmental Organizations 3 (NGO5), Specialized agencies such as the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and hundreds and thousands of Volunteers.
Extraordinary measures are needed to eradicate the polio virus. High level of routine immunization must be supplemented by (1) National Immunization Days (NIDs) (2) Rigorous Surveillance to determine where the polio virus still circulates(3) Laboratory support and (4) Mop up operations where pockets of disease remain.
Rotary International and PolioPlus.
In 1985, Rotary created PolioPlus - a program to immunize all the world\'s children against polio by 2005 - Rotary\'s centennial PolioPlus is one of the most ambitious humanitarian undertakings made by a private entity ever. It will serve as a paradigm for private/public collaborations in the fight against disease well into the next century.
Rotary\'s PolioPlus program is a shining example of the achievements made by cooperation between the United Nations and non-governmental Kofi Annan, Secretary General, United Nations. Rotary International began in Chicago in 1905. It is the oldest and one of the largest non-profit service organizations in the world. It is comprised of 1.2 million members working in over 29,700 Clubs in 163 countries. Rotary memben initiate community projects that address many of today\'s most critical issue such as violence, AIDS, hunger, the environment and health care.
How is Rotary involved in the global polio eradication effort?
Financially: In 1985, Rotary was recognized by WHO as a non-governmental organization working in the field of international health. In the same year, Rotary set a goal to raise $ 120 million to provide the oral polio vaccine (OPV) to newborns in the developing world. When the campaign ended, Rotary has doubled its goal, collecting more than $ 247 million. Todate, Rotary has contributed US$ 385 million to the protection of nearly two billion children. By 2005, Rotary\'s financial commitment will reach a half billion US dollars.
Pakistan has received US $ 12 million upto now as Rotary\'s contribution to support the Government\'s efforts to eradicate Polio from Pakistan.
On the ground assistance: With its community-based network worldwide, Rotary is the volunteer arm of the global partnership dedicated to eradicating polio. Rotary volunteers assist in vaccine delivery, social mobilization and logistically help in cooperation with the National Health Ministries, WHO, UNICEF and the U.S Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Rotarians\' volunteer efforts were instrumental in the eradication of polio from the Western Hemisphere, certified polio-free in 1994.
Global Advocacy: With the end of polio in sight, the eradication campaign enters the most difficult leg of the journey involving the poorest regions of the world. Rotary\'s Polio Eradication Advocacy Task Force successfully reaches out to governments worldwide to obtain vital financial and technical support needed to reach the goal of a polio-free 21st century. And Rotary\'s efforts have paid off. Countries such as Canada, Australia, Denmark, Japan, United Kingdom and the United States are major financial donors to this historic health initiative
The world stands on the threshold of victory. Rotary is making sure that donor nations and other sources must commit - NOW - the financial and technical resources needed to complete the job of eradicating polio. If we seize the opportunity, polio will join small pox as the second major disease to be eliminated from the face of the earth.
What finer gift to the children of the world in the new century than to relegate the ancient scourge of polio to history\'s dustbin.
Courtesy:Ministry of Health Government of Pakistan.
To commemorate the occasion Pakistan Post Office is issuing a commemorative Postage stamp of Rs. 2/- denomination on December 13, 2000.