Rotary Foundation: Polio Plus
July 2, 2006
LAST WEEK'S PROGRAM: Rotary Foundation Day - Honoring our Paul Harris Fellows with Kathy Czerwinski and Harry Farris
By: Stephen Kent
THIS WEEK July 4:
in observance of Fourth of July.
July 11: Membership meeting, with Don Massnick.
When Speaker Kathy Czerwinski left her laptop computer turned on and projecting an image of the Michigan State Flag for the entire meal and business portion of the meeting, opposition member Don Massnick (U of M) called for the Sergent at Arms to fine Czerwinski for such an outrageous partisian display. The question was put to a vote of the membership with results split equally down party lines. The support of the non-partisian members went to Czerwinski and no fine was levied.
Kathy Czerwinski and Harry Farris presented a program titled The History and Accomplishments of PolioPlus.
Rotary's war on polio began in 1979 with a commitment to buy and help deliver vaccine to six million children in the Philippines. It was the first project conceived under Rotary?s new Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) program and was a test of Rotary?s capacity to serve effectively in public health.
Dr. Albert Sabin developed a live attenuated vaccine in his labs in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was a member of the Rotary Club of Cincinnati. The oral vaccine became the World Health Organization?s vaccine of choice because it does not need to be administered by health professionals and it was one-fifth the cost the injectible vaccine.
The existence of a vaccine and the disappearance of smallpox were factors driving a series of decisions and actions by Rotary's leadership that lead to the formal establishment of the PolioPlus program in 1985.
Few of these leaders realized the ramifications of the program on which they were about to embark.
And . . Few could dream that Rotary, a private-sector organization with no track record in the field of public health, would shortly become the private-sector leader in the greatest public health adventure in history.
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For 50 Years Rotary Discouraged Organization Wide Actions.
Each Rotary Club had absolute autonomy in the selection of its activities and the RI "should never prescribe nor proscribe any objective activity for any club." In 63-64, the RI President Carl Miller, a WSJ executive, developed a plan to pair, arbitrarily, all Rotary district clubs. The purpose was to increase contact between Rotary Clubs in different countries. Soon, RI became a clearinghouse of cooperative service projects. It continues that role today as Rotary's World Community Service program.
In 1979, the 3-H committee agreed to pursue the feasibility of a $760,000 project to buy and help distribute polio vaccine to 6.3 million children in the Philippines, a country that had one of the highest rates of polio cases in the World Health Organization?s Western Pacific Region. In February 1979, the RI Board gave the green light to the Philippines 3-H project - PolioPlus had taken root!
By July 1980 the vaccine reached 90% of the target age group.
By 1982 the number of polio cases decreased by 68%.
With the Philippines immunization project as a model, similar projects were launched in Cambodia, Haiti, Morocco, Paraguay and Sierra Leone. These projects helped further shape Rotary?s approach to immunizing children.
Rotary Stuck to its Polio Eradication Goal and remained focused on the eradication of polio and set out to develop a strategy faithful to its own goal, yet supportive of broader immunization goals.
A committee of 11 Rotarians was formed with special consultant Dr. Sabin, the developer of the oral polio vaccine, having witnessed the dramatic results of mass campaigns in the Soviet Union, Brazil, and Cuba, Sabin saw in Rotary an organization with the answer to this dream of a polio-free world
At the RI Convention in 1985, Dr. Sabin was present and challenged the audience:
Unless there are changes made, 20 years from now, when Rotary is 100 years old, there will be an accumulated eight million more paralyzed children in the world . . And probably 800,000 deaths.
Many Rotarians assumed $120 million in vaccine for 5 years would put the virus on the road to elimination.
The true price would turn our to be more than $3 billion.
Money and pledges rolled in at $1 million a day
By February 1988 ? the $120 million goal had been reached
At the May RI International meeting a total of $219,350,499 was announced
By the end of the year, $247,000,000 had been collected.
Rotary International PolioPlus Committee (IPPC), Rotary cemented its position as the leading private-sector partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
WHO served as the chief architect and strategist.
UNICEF provided experience in training, social mobilization and vaccine procurement.
CDC supplied technical support to laboratories and deployed experts in epidemiology and program management.
Rotary provided money, volunteer muscle, and moral leadership.
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Still in Need of Funds, Rotary Launches Another Campaign Among Members in 2001.
When The Gates Foundation offered a matching grant program, Rotary needed to raise $25 million to meet the match.
RI Board agreed to another PolioPlus campaign among members since more than 50% of the members had joined the organization since the mid-80?s campaign ? and thousands of these new members were women!
The goal of the one-year campaign, named ?Fulfilling Our Promise: Eradicate Polio? was set at $80 million, sufficient not only to meet the Gates Foundation challenge, but replenish the coffers of the PolioPlus Fund.
By late 2004, the total surpassed $130 million.
Rotary had once again demonstrated its commitment.
In 2001, there were fewer than 500 cases of polio paralysis in the world. In 2005, the number jumped to more than 1,900 and each paralyzed child means another 200 ?silent carriers?.
In 2005, in addition to India and Nigeria, cases were reported in Somalia, Niger, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia.
The closer a disease is to eradication, the harder won the gains. Interest lags as the number of cases falls.
Fatigue sets in among the volunteers, donors and average people.
Yet even one unvaccinated child can allow a new pocket of the disease to bloom.
As of early 2006, the transmission of polio has been interrupted in all but four countries ? Nigeria, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.
Between early 2003 and mid-2005, polio spread to 21 previously polio-free countries. As of January 2006, only 8 of these countries were still reporting cases: Indonesia, Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, Angola, Nepal, Niger and Chad.
Polio eradication is back on track in Africa
Rotary has clearly stated that it is in the war for the duration.
By the time the world is certified polio-free, Rotary?s contributions to the global polio eradication effort will be nearly $650 million.
122 nations have benefited from PolioPlus grants
In 1988, 10% of the world?s children lived in polio-free countries. In July 2005, 70% of the world?s children are living in polio-free countries.
More than 3 billion people ? half the world?s population ? live in 134 countries, territories and areas now certified as polio-free.
The number of cases of polio has declined by 99% since Rotary launched the PolioPlus program.
Rotary is the leading non-governmental contributor.
Once polio has been eradicated, the world will reap substantial financial, as well as humanitarian, dividends due to foregone polio treatment and rehabilitation costs. Depending on national decisions on the future use of polio vaccines, these savings could exceed $1 billion a year.
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