Treading the last chapter of polio in Africa – Rotary’s $30.7 million project

October 24, a date set aside to mark world Polio day, addressing the awareness of this disease, and the fact that it still breathes on earth.

Polio, a crippling and paralysing disease, has effectively dropped from 350,000 cases in 1988 to under 1,300 in 2004 worldwide. Although the numbers are low, we need to completely erase the disease from the sphere of the earth as we did with small pox. In order for polio to become the second disease to be completely eradicated, various groups need to take a stand by 2018. A stand taken by Rotary group, a $30.7 million stand to be precise.

Rotary has identified countries in Africa that are polio-free, but remain at risk of re-infection: Democratic Republic of Congo ($1.5 million), Niger ($1 million), South Sudan ($2 million), and Sudan ($1 million).Another $9.5 million is set aside for previously polio-free countries currently reporting cases from the endemic countries: Cameroon ($3.5 million), Ethiopia ($2 million), Somalia ($4 million) and Nigeria ($8.4 million). the remaining $6.3 million will go toward polio eradication research.

“It is fitting that this round of Rotary grants coincides with World Polio Day, which we use to raise awareness of — and support for – the global campaign to end this terrible disease once and for all,” said Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko, the organization’s top executive. “Rotary is committed to relegating polio to the history books, and we welcome everyone’s support as we move ever closer to our goal of a polio-free world.”

Hewko believes that introducing the inactivated injectable polio vaccine is the conclusion of polio – and can further supplement the process through immunizing 2.5 billion children with oral polio vaccine. Sanofi Pasteur, a large manufacturer of the polio vaccine will be able to do so, through is co-sponsorship with Rotary.

“As more than 120 countries in the world are introducing the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), we are beginning the last chapter on polio eradication,” said Olivier Charmeil, Sanofi Pasteur chief executive officer. “At Sanofi Pasteur, we have had a long-term vision of IPV as the ultimate public health tool able to finish the job started with Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV)”. He further noted.

The entire core of the project is to ensure the eradication of polio by 2018, through their work, although to some may be a drop in the ocean, the goal will turn into a reality and free the world from this paralysing disease.