Rotary Helps Launch Major Anti-Polio Drive
Nation’s first polio case in
five years prompts swift response - Rotary International is participating
in a massive polio immunization campaign in Bangladesh aimed at reaching
18 million children under the age of five with the oral polio vaccine.
The campaign began April 16, the first of three polio National Immunization
Days (NIDs) in Bangladesh. The other two NIDs will be May 13 and June
11. These NIDs were sparked by the confirmation in March that a nine-year
old girl from rural Bangladesh had contracted the crippling disease.
This was the first case of polio in Bangladesh in more than five years
and so far there have been no other reported cases.
The Government of Bangladesh decided to immunize all children nationwide
under the age of five years as a precaution, as it was uncertain how
the young girl had contracted the virus or where the virus was circulating.
“It is imperative that we reach every child with the vaccine,”
said M.K. Panduranga Setty, vice-chair of Rotary's Southeast Asia Regional
PolioPlus Committee. “We cannot let polio regain a foothold in
On 15 March, The Rotary Foundation approved a US$150,000 Rapid Response
Grant in support of the planned immunization activities. The Rotary
Foundation’s support for polio eradication activities in Bangladesh
since 1985 now totals more than US$17 million. Bangladesh is home to
nearly 4,000 Rotary members, many of them active in the polio eradication
The NIDs will target 18 million under-five children and give them three
doses of the polio vaccine at regular intervals. The campaign will also
focus on the search for cases of acute flaccid paralysis, and effective
management and prevention of the spread of reported polio virus cases.
The campaign will target the hard-to-reach and will administer vaccines
at airports and at land borders.
The polio NID was launched by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare,
Mr. Khondoker Mosharraf Hossain in the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka.
“The central challenge now is sustaining the momentum. For as
long as one transmitter of the polio virus remains anywhere, all children
will be at risk – and until that last child is reached, the task
is not completed,” said Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF Bangladesh
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) works with governments
around the world to reduce the incidence of polio and is spearheaded
by WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention and UNICEF. The GPEI has reduced the incidence of polio by
more than 99% since its launch in 1988, from 350,000 annual cases to
1,950 cases in 2005.
For this campaign the GPEI has helped procure 24 million vaccines and
has been involved in the massive preparations which include orienting
and training health workers and field-based volunteers. It has also
been instrumental in raising awareness through the electronic media,
interpersonal communication, distribution of communication materials
and door-to-door searches for left out children.
Rotary’s commitment to end polio represents the largest private-sector
support of a global health initiative ever. In 1985, Rotary members
worldwide vowed to immunize all the world’s children against polio.
Since then, Rotary has contributed more than US$650 million to a polio-free
world. Besides raising and contributing funds, over one million men
and women of Rotary have volunteered their time and personal resources
to help immunize more than 2 billion children in 122 countries during
national immunization campaigns .
Rotarins Join Vaccine
Institute in Celebrating Sabin stamp -
The Albert B. Sabin Vaccine
Institute hosted a reception 11 April in Washington, D.C., to celebrate
the issue of a U.S. postage stamp honoring Dr. Albert Sabin, who developed
the oral polio vaccine. Several Rotarians were among the scores of attendees
at the event.
Created from a weakened form of the poliovirus, the oral polio vaccine
was licensed in the United States in the early 1960s. It is now a crucial
player in the global effort to eradicate polio.
The U.S. Postal Service issued the Sabin stamp 8 March. It released
another stamp the same day to recognize Dr. Jonas Salk, who created
an earlier, injectable polio vaccine.
John Sever, a member of the International PolioPlus Committee who represented
Rotary International at the reception, addressed the audience, noting
that Sabin had advised Rotary on polio issues and supported its polio
eradication advocacy efforts.
Sever and Past RI President Carlos Conseco, who are both medical researchers,
worked with Sabin on an aerosol measles vaccine, which they administered
in the 1980s to children in Mexico.
"Dr. Sabin was a true friend of Rotary and often said how proud
he was to be an honorary Rotarian," Sever said. "Dr. Sabin
astutely recognized how Rotary's drive to serve humanity could be harnessed
and directed toward achieving a goal of unimaginable magnitude: the
global eradication of polio."
Sabin appeared at two RI conventions. In 1980, he helped highlight the
groundbreaking Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) polio immunization
project in the Philippines. He also spoke at the 1985 RI Convention,
where he received the Rotary Award for World Understanding and Peace
and where the PolioPlus program was announced.
Sever noted that armies of volunteers, including thousands of Rotarians,
have used the oral polio vaccine to immunize more than two billion children
over the past 20 years.
He also congratulated Heloisa Sabin, a founding member of the vaccine
institute, for carrying on her husband's legacy as an advocate for global
immunization to end all vaccine-preventable diseases.
"Rotary likewise congratulates [institute] cofounder Dr. Robert
Chanock, institute president Dr. Ciro de Quadros, and other members
of the [organization] for the wonderful work they carry out," he
Sever's address was sprinkled with anecdotes that evoked Sabin's energy
and devotion to polio eradication. Sabin sometimes dramatically expressed
his impatience with foot dragging on polio- related decisions, Sever
Sever became friends with the vaccine developer, who died in 1993.
"My wife and I enjoyed hospitality at [the Sabins'] home in Washington
and with Heloisa's family in Rio (de Janiero)," Sever said. "We
have many fond memories of those relationships."
Donor Profile for Received
and Confirmed Contributions, 1988-2008
As of 1 February 2005
Contribution (US$ million) Public Sector Partners Development Banks
Private Sector Partners
> 500 USA Rotary International
250 — 500 Japan, United Kingdom
100 — 249 European Commission, Canada, Netherlands World Bank
50 — 99 Germany Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
25 — 49 Denmark, France, Norway, Sweden, UNICEF Regular Resources,
WHO Regular Budget, United Nations Foundation
5 — 24 Australia, Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Russian
Federaion Inter-American Development Bank, Aventis Pasteur, IFPMA, UNICEF
1 — 4 Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Advantage
Trust (HK), De Beers, Pew Charitable Trust, Wyeth
Rotary is the largest non-governmental financial contributor
to the global polio eradication effort. By the time the world is certified
polio-free, Rotary's contributions to the global polio eradication effort
will exceed US$600 million.