Last week our speaker was Breakfast Rotary Club member, Krishna Murphy, MD.   He shared with us the role that Rotary has played to eradicate polio nearly world-wide, updated the present status of polio in the world  and outlined the strategies for future efforts. The timing of this presentation correlates with World Polio Day, October 24.
Many of us in the audience are old enough to remember the ravages of this disease in the US and worldwide.  In 1952 there were 52,000 cases in the US. The effort to raise awareness and funding to combat this disease started with the March of Dimes campaigns.  Kirshna was personally involved with polio cases as a Pediatrician in India early in his career.
Rotary involvement in the effort to eradicate polio began with a vaccination program in the Philippines in 1979.  More than $500 million dollars have been raised by RI since.  Working together with the WHO and  the Bill Gates Foundation has resulted in a 99.9% reduction in cases worldwide with  polio cases currently occurring in only two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Nigeria has not yet been declared polio-free but no cases have been reported in 3 years.)  Most cases now occurring are vaccine-related infections.  Developed countries are using shots rather than oral vaccine to eliminate this risk.
Current activities include ongoing vaccination (450 million/year), investigation of new paralysis case, sewage examination and providing help for those previously disabled by polio. Current needs include rapid evaluation of possible new cases, protection of health care providers from anti-vaccine activists and provision for associated health care needs such as other vaccinations, nutrition and clean water. Continued fundraising and financial support will be needed from Rotarians worldwide.