A new book in the field of public health highlights Rotary’s role in the global effort to wipe out polio, and places it in the context of humanity’s relentless struggle to contain the world’s epidemics.
In “The Health of Nations: The Campaign to End Polio and Eradicate Epidemic Diseases” (Oneworld Publications), British journalist and Sunday Times best-selling author Karen Bartlett surveys the global landscape of epidemics past, present, and future. Beginning with the 1980 eradication of smallpox, she guides us through more timely threats such as the Ebola and Zika viruses, and looks ahead to a future without malaria, measles, or polio.
“Who decided to rid the world of polio? Not politicians or global health organizations, as you might expect,” she writes, in one of several chapters devoted to polio. “The starting gun was fired by Rotary International, a network of businessmen more used to enjoying convivial dinners, raising money for local good causes, and organizing floats to carry Santa Claus around suburban neighborhoods at Christmas.”
Bartlett offers a comprehensive, readable account of the polio-eradication campaign’s history and Rotary’s unlikely role as its chief advocate. From epidemiologist John Sever’s early suggestion that Rotary adopt ending polio as an organizational mission to the first immunization drives in the Philippines and Central and South America, the world community doubted both the idea of a campaign targeting a single disease and Rotary’s capacity as a volunteer organization to execute it.
The narrative traces Rotary’s mission to reach all the world’s children with Albert Sabin’s polio vaccine, the formation of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), and the struggle to interrupt transmission in the world’s poorest communities, particularly in densely populated countries like India, which has not reported a new case since 2011.
“Polio eradication is a twentieth-century dream, conceived by idealists and driven by big international institutions and mass mobilizations of volunteers, working together to make a better world for all,” Bartlett writes. “It must succeed or fail, however, in a twenty-first century marked by factionalism, religious intolerance, and rising inequality.”
Aziz Memon, chair of Rotary’s National PolioPlus Committee in Pakistan, is interviewed about the challenges facing his country, one of the few where polio remains endemic and conflict has slowed progress. Carol Pandak, director of PolioPlus at Rotary headquarters, weighs in on the contributions of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in both funding and high-profile advocacy. Other prominent voices from Rotary’s GPEI partners chime in throughout.
Based in London, Bartlett has previously worked in politics and written for Newsweek and Wired. She’s produced documentary films and written nonfiction books, including a biography of musician Dusty Springfield and a collaboration with Anne Frank’s stepsister Eva Schloss on Schloss’ memoirs.
- 1.8 Billion people around the world lack access to safe water
- Every 90 seconds a child dies from a water related disease.
- Globally, a third of all schools lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation.
- In low – middle income countries, like Tanzania, a third of all healthcare facilities lack
- The incidence of children suffering from stunting and chronic malnutrition – at least 160 million – is linked to water and sanitation.
- Women and children spend 125 million hours collecting fresh water every day. Individual women and children spend as many as six hours collecting fresh water daily.
- Universal access to safe water and sanitation would result in $18.5 billion economic benefits each year from deaths avoided alone, a return of $4 for every dollar spend on safe water access.
- The amount of safe water could drop by 40 percent in 15 years if people do not change the way they use water.
- Keep track of how much water you use for the entire day. The average American uses about 87 gallons per day.
- Donate $1 for each gallon used in a day to: Our District’s Annual Fund. This will go, in part, towards our Water and Sanitation projects for digging wells, water filters, water holding tanks and handwashing training.
REGISTRATION PERIOD EXTENDED DUE TO ADDITION OF ONE MORE DAY!
The WORLD PEACE CONFERENCE 2017 will focus on how to prevent and mediate conflict. It is a unique opportunity to exchange ideas and solutions with professionals from government, business, healthcare, media, and faith-based organizations. Diverse perspectives will challenge our thinking.
The goal of this gathering is to empower community leaders, Rotarians, youth, and others to promote and practice peace in their own communities and beyond.
Authors, scholars, media and faith-based experts specializing in peace and conflict resolution will share ideas and discuss solutions to these complex issues. View our speaker line-up here.
This two-day event will be hosted by the Michigan, northern Indiana, northwest Ohio and southern Ontario based Rotary clubs representing over 15,000 Rotarians.
Please join us for this exciting opportunity on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, MI, March 31-April 1, 2017! The conference will be held at the Michigan League, 911 North University Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 40109.