Posted by Al Anile
Club Member Joaquin Mejia, and his guest speaker Kris Tsau
Kris Tsau, Rotary International Advocacy Specialist PolioPlus, was the guest speaker at our October 1st weekly luncheon
Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners work all across the globe to ensure no child is paralyzed by polio ever again.
Stopping all poliovirus
Today, the three countries of focus are AfghanistanNigeria and Pakistan as they have never stopped transmission of endemic wild poliovirus.  The countries are working to deliver vaccination services to their people, to carry out sensitive disease surveillance and to cooperate to immunize migrating populations across their common border. GPEI also supports countries that experience or are vulnerable to the rise of vaccine-derived polio viruses (VDPVs), which are rare and only occur when polio vaccination rates are low. When VDPV cases occur, high levels of vaccination, robust surveillance, and rapid outbreak response are critical.
Keeping the world safe
GPEI is also working to strengthen surveillance and immunization systems in the African and Eastern Mediterranean regions of the World Health Organization to ensure that polio has truly ended and immunity against the virus improves. In many countries of the world, surveillance against polio is maintained through the GPEI, and vaccination activities continue, to make sure children remain protected as long as there is polio anywhere.
Closing in on the Virus
  • In 1988, there were 350,000 annual cases of wild poliovirus from 125 countries. In 2018, there were 33 cases reported in only two countries - Pakistan and Afghanistan. While this exceeds the number of cases in 2017 (22), wild polio transmission has remained at unprecedented low levels in recent years.
  • Today, wild polio exists in the smallest geographic area in history. The world has not experienced any outbreaks of wild polio outside the three remaining polio-endemic countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria – since August 2014. In fact, Nigeria has not seen a case since 2016. If the country reaches three years without detecting the virus, the entire WHO AFRO Region could be certified wild polio-free as early as 2020.
  • Only one of the three wild polio virus strains appears to survive Wild polio virus type2(WPV2)was certified eradicated in 2015, and type 3 wild poliovirus (WPV3) has not been detected since 2012.
Program Achievements
  • Thanks to polio eradication efforts, more than 18 million people are currently walking who otherwise would have been paralyzed by the virus. Ending polio is a critical step toward improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children.
  • In 2019, the WHO South East Asia Region marks five years since being declared polio-free following eradication of the virus in India. India was once described as the most challenging place in the world to end polio and just over a decade ago was responsible for almost 70% of all wild polio cases globally. Stopping polio in the country is one of the most significant achievements in public health and serves as evidence for what is possible in the remaining endemic countries.
  • The tools, infrastructure and knowledge developed to eradicate polio have been used to fight every vaccine-preventable childhood disease, deliver malaria prevention tools and improve disease surveillance worldwide. Polio workers have also delivered 1.3 billion doses of Vitamin A since 1988 that have saved an estimated 1.5 million children’s lives. In 2014, the polio vaccination infrastructure in Nigeria was also used to stop the Ebola outbreak in its tracks.
Protecting Gains
  • If we don’t end polio now, we could see a resurgence of up to 200,000 cases annually within a decade. The world could also risk losing upwards of US$50 billion in estimated savings that eradication would generate by 2035 – with these savings primarily concentrated in developing countries.
  • To protect global progress, the program vaccinates more than 400 million children across dozens of countries every year and conducts disease surveillance in more than 70 countries. Since 2001, there have been wild polio outbreaks in 41 countries that were previously polio-free. While each outbreak has been stopped, each one is a reminder that as long as polio exists, every country—and every child—is at risk.
  • Through its ongoing surveillance, the program investigates more than 100,000 suspected cases of polio each year using a community reporting network. It has also expanded environmental sewage testing to help vaccination campaigns target areas where the virus is circulating even before any child shows symptoms of polio.