Evanston, IL: Rotary International and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) recently announce the eradication of wild polio in the African region, following decades of effort from GPEI partners, local and national leaders, and health workers throughout the African region. Rotary said that over the course of the effort, 9 billion doses of oral polio vaccine have been administered, hundreds of millions of children have been immunized, and 1.8 million cases of wild poliovirus have been averted throughout the region.
“In the face of a pandemic, the world has had very little good news to celebrate in global health this year and the challenges ahead are formidable,” said Rotary International President Holger Knaack. “That is why we must recognize this great achievement and commend all of the people who played important roles in eradicating wild polio in the African region. It took tremendous effort and partnership over many years,” he said.
The cumulative action of Rotary members and volunteers along with political and financial support has helped the eradication of the virus.
“India which was certified free of the wild poliovirus in 2014, recognizes that there are lessons to be shared to help the African region remain free of the wild poliovirus. India has safeguarded its children for over 10 years since the last wild polio case was reported in January 2011 by ensuring that all children throughout the country are vaccinated twice each year to stay protected from polio,” said Deepak Kapur, Chairman, Rotary International and India National PolioPlus Committee. “However, as long as polio exists anywhere, it remains a threat everywhere, so wild polio must be eradicated in the remaining countries. We are proud to stand with the African region and celebrate its success in eliminating the wild poliovirus and look forward to the day when no child anywhere will be paralyzed by polio” he added.
Polio vaccination efforts throughout the African region must continue, and routine immunization must be strengthened to keep immunity levels high and protect the children against the rare occurrences of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus.