Polio Plus

District 5495 will join with Pakistan District 3272 to present a very special update during World Polio Day weekend on Rotary’s efforts to eliminate polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“Pakistan and Afghanistan: Countdown to History” will be presented virtually 8-10 a.m. Oct. 23 (8-10 p.m. in Pakistan).
The program will be conducted via Zoom and limited to the first 300 who register.
The program takes place one day prior to World Polio Day, Oct. 24.
Past District Governor Abe Feder will serve as moderator. Among the scheduled speakers:
  • Carol Pandek, director of Polio Plus for Rotary International, will provide an update on Rotary International’s efforts to eradicate polio.
  • Stephen Brown, Past Rotary Foundation Trustee, will provide a brief update on efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • Mr. Brown will interview Mohamed Ishak of Afghanistan on current status of the polio immunization campaign in Afghanistan.
  • Salman Mubarek, District 3272 Governor Nominee will interview The Rotary Foundation Trustee Aziz Memon of Pakistan.
  • Masheim Mubarak, a Rotaractor in Pakistan, will provide updates on the efforts of female polio workers in Pakistan.
“Past District Governors Abe Feder and Jim Erickson have put together an incredibly powerful program that should be of interest to any of our Rotarians who care about our efforts to eradicate polio from the face the earth,” said Bret McKeand, District 5495 Governor.
“Between our two districts, we’ve put together a lineup of speakers that features the top experts in the world when it comes to Rotary’s efforts to fight polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I can’t think of a better way to kick off World Polio Day weekend,” said Bret.
Mr. Ishak is on the front line of Rotary’s polio efforts in Afghanistan. He will be joining the program from a location in Afghanistan but his appearance is dependent on the availability of electricity and Internet connectivity.

For questions, contact Abe Feder at  abefeder1@gmail.com .
As World Polio Day approaches, the Rotary community is getting ready to amplify our message about eradicating polio to protect the world’s children from this devastating disease.

Together, we’ve made tremendous progress. Now it’s time to intensify our fight to make polio the second human disease ever to be eradicated. Last year, the World Health Organization’s African region was certified free of wild poliovirus, showing that eradication is possible even in very difficult circumstances. The wild poliovirus remains endemic in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan. We can use World Polio Day to advocate for the support we need to end polio in countries where it still paralyzes children.

Inspire action
Take action for World Polio Day by promoting the importance of polio eradication, raising funds, and planning events. Let’s engage our communities in the fight against polio — because as long as polio exists anywhere, it remains a threat everywhere.

Use the World Polio Day Toolkit to find resources and tips for planning activities and promoting a polio-free world. Inspire others to join us by hosting virtual and community events, creating fundraisers, and sharing posts on social media.
Download the World Polio Day Toolkit
Register your club’s participation in World Polio Day to show how Rotary, Rotaract, and Interact clubs around the world are taking action to eradicate polio. If you register your events, fundraisers, and promotions by 14 October, you’ll get early access to a download of Rotary’s World Polio Day Global Update one week before the program will be shown on 24 October on Rotary’s Facebook page and endpolio.org.
Register your club's participation
Use Raise for Rotary to start an online fundraiser to benefit The Rotary Foundation’s PolioPlus Fund for World Polio Day. Then, share it with your network! The top Raise for Rotary World Polio Day 2021 fundraisers will be featured on My Rotary.
Start a fundraiser
Because so many of you have expressed concern about the polio situation in Afghanistan with the takeover of the country by the Taliban, we are publishing this special edition to share an official statement we received yesterday from Mike McGovern, chair of Rotary International's Polio Plus Committee.
We thought it important enough to publish now to hopefully allay concerns some folks may be having. The statement follows:
As the sun rose on Jan. 1, 2021, we all worried about what this new year would bring. For those of us who closely follow polio eradication progress, it was an especially worrisome.
The past two years -- 2020 and 2019 -- had seen an uptick in wild polio virus cases and in circulating vaccine-derived cases.
Polio vaccinations had to be suspended for a while in 2020 due to the coronavirus and vaccines for Covid-19 were just starting to receive early use approvals.
The polio news was especially bad in Afghanistan.
On the very first day of 2021, a wild polio virus case was reported. In the next week, the national health minister was fired due to hints of corruption on non-polio makers. Before month’s end, the government of Afghanistan ordered the UNICEF polio lead to leave the country relating to a verbal spat that had occurred in the president’s office.
Then in March and June there were coordinated attacks on polio workers and their security teams that left eight families having lost loved ones. The Taliban denied responsibility for the attacks, and it appeared the attacks were attributed to elements who supported ISIS or ISIL as they are also known.
We also noted that some areas of the country had been subject to over 30 months of a ban on house-to-house polio vaccinations. While all this was going on other activities were occurring which have been mostly unreported.
On January 17, the Regional Directors of WHO and UNICEF met at the Taliban office in Doha, Qatar to discuss polio vaccinations and covid response in the areas controlled by the Taliban. While house to house polio vaccinations were not agreed to, the seven senior members of Taliban leadership indicated support for other measures to provide vaccination activities.
In all areas of the country, health screenings continued unabated, which showed no new wild polio cases and no positive identification of polio viruses in the environment. In a zoom call of polio partnership leaders the week of August 17, Aidan O’Leary, the global WHO polio director, noted that Afghanistan has one of the best programs for polio surveillance in the world and it was not finding polio anywhere.
After the fall of the Afghanistan government in mid-August, the new leadership has agreed to keep on the acting health minister who has been effective in righting the program since February. Taliban leaders have visited the national and regional polio offices and pledged their support for the polio eradication program.
On August 23, a Rotary-sponsored roadside vaccination hut provided vaccinations to children under five with local Taliban providing the needed security. For security reasons, I will not share the photos I received but it was good to see the Rotary logo doing good in the world.
Rotary has just 35 members in Afghanistan. They inspire me daily with their courage and perseverance. The polio program has always been politically neutral in every country. Rotary and our partners work with the leaders who are in charge. We now work with new leaders in Afghanistan.
Rotary funds WHO and UNICEF. We do not send any funds to the governments nor to groups other than WHO and UNICEF. We monitor the spending they do on our behalf very closely.
We have never been closer to eradicating polio in Afghanistan. We will continue to work with the Afghani people and our partners to finish what we began over 35 years ago.
District Governor Bret has indicated his desire to continue The PolioPlus Society Initiative.  For a pledge to donate $100 per year to End Polio Now, you too can become a member of the PolioPlus Society. If interested, please visit the Foundation portion of the District website (CLICK HERE) and maneuver to the PolioPlus Society section of the page. Use the pop-out button in order to print the various pages. District Foundation Chair Charlie Teagarden would like to see a couple hundred District 5495 members sign up for the PolioPlus Society! Unfortunately, during the Rotary year just ended, the participation in the PolioPlus Society was not what was hoped for and our District is lagging our sister Arizona District in both participation and amount pledged.
Watch an EXCELLENT video on Iron Will and The Iron Lung HERE
Most people today probably don’t know what this is:

And that’s a good thing because it shows how much progress the world has made against polio, a terrible and now largely forgotten disease. 

This metal tank is an iron lung, a mechanical respirator that saved the lives of thousands of polio victims. 

Polio attacks the body’s nervous system, crippling patients. In the worst cases, the disease paralyzes their respiratory muscles and makes it difficult for them to breathe, sometimes resulting in death.  

Using changes in air pressure, the iron lung pulls air in and out of a patient’s lungs, allowing them to breathe and stay alive. 

During the height of the polio epidemic in the U.S. in the 1940s and 1950s, rows of iron lungs filled hospital wards to treat thousands of polio patients, most of them children.

Funding to be used to vaccinate more than 16 million children in 84 highest risk districts 

The funding will be used to vaccinate approximately 16 million children in 84 highest-risk districts. © UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on July 24 announced an additional US$9.5 million support to the Pakistan Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI). The funding will be used to vaccinate approximately 16 million children during door-to-door immunization campaigns in 84 highest-risk districts as well as an additional US$376,000 to provide personal protective equipment against COVID-19 for the frontline campaign workers.

The funding, which will be utilized from July to December, brings to more than US$23 million made available by the UAE in 2021. The Emirates, a long-time supporter of Pakistan’s polio programme and its main funder, has provided over US$200 million in financial support since 2014. Pakistan is one of two countries where wild poliovirus remains endemic.

Speaking on behalf of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Dr Palitha Mahipala, the World Health Organization Representative in Pakistan, thanked the UAE for its generous contribution, noting the UAE’s steadfast commitment not only to protecting children from lifelong paralysis but to the overall goal of polio eradication.

“The UAE has firmly stood by the polio programme with vital yearly contributions and in pleas for extra funding to address unforeseen challenges such as COVID-19,” he said. “This would not be possible without their support.”