Polio Outbreaks and the Endgame Strategy

If you are a member of Rotary International (aka the Rotary club in your town) you are well aware of PolioPlus as the effort Rotary started in 1985 and now partners with several other worldwide agencies to eradicate polio from the face of the earth. The partners have formed the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). You understand when you see a picture of someone with his or her hand in the air holding their forefinger and thumb 2 inches apart they are part of the “This Close” campaign indicating we are so close to eradicating polio worldwide.

In my last blog, I discussed the statistics on how many new cases in the world and the 3 endemic countries. Cases of polio continue to drop in Nigeria and Afghanistan. Most unfortunately, cases in Pakistan are higher this year as of November 14 then in all of 2012.

A Health Ministry official in Pakistan said that one of the main causes of the situation lies in Taliban attacks on medical staff and volunteers in charge of vaccination campaigns. Most of the cases (43) were reported in tribal regions near the Afghanistan borders, where insurgency is particularly active and has killed or injured several health workers this year.  (To read the source of this information, go to  Prensa Latina – Agencia Informativa Latinoamericana’s website:  http://www.plenglish.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2052091&Itemid=1 )

On November 11, 2013, thirteen cases of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) have been confirmed in the Syrian Arab Republic. Genetic sequencing indicates that the isolated viruses are most closely linked to virus detected in environmental samples in Egypt in December 2012 (which in turn had been linked to wild poliovirus circulating in Pakistan). Closely related wild poliovirus strains have also been detected in environmental samples in Israel, West Bank and Gaza Strip since February 2013. Wild poliovirus had not been detected in the Syrian Arab Republic since 1999. (To read the source of this information and rest of the text, go to the World Health Organization’s website: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2013_11_11polio/en/index.html )

Wait a minute here………what happened to “This Close!!!!” How can we be “this close” with these outbreaks and the outbreak in Somalia now at 180 cases?

In that previous blog, I discussed the Endgame Strategy being implemented by the GPEI. The Endgame Strategy takes into account the reality of case numbers exploding like they did in Somalia. The plan requires immediate response to these areas to get them back under control. The following is from the GPEI Endgame Strategy just about verbatim.

IMMUNIZATION SYSTEMS:  The plan emphasizes strengthening immunization systems to boost immunity and help introduce new vaccines, including polio vaccines.

ALL POLIO TYPES SIMULTANEOUSLY:  Both wild and vaccine-derived poliovirus are addressed in parallel, using a global vaccine switch to manage long-term poliovirus risks.

RISK MITIGATION:  The plan anticipates and prepares for potential challenges, including insecurity, to enable rapid responses to obstacles and avoid delays.

CONCRETE TIMELINE AND BUDGET:  Rigorous data analysis of recent progress is employed to project a concrete, realistic timeline and budget to reach and sustain eradication.

LESSONS LEARNED:  Recent successes in India and endemic countries are built upon to provide strategies for overcoming potential obstacles.

LEGACY PLANNING:  A process is outlined to prepare for the effective transfer of lessons learned, knowledge and appropriate assets of polio eradication to benefit other health goals.

Basic message in this blog is that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel where the world will finally be polio free. This is a great thing. However, there are challenges and they are showing up in various places. The GPEI members, which include all Rotarians, must remain vigilant. We must all work toward peace and resolution conflict around the world since current areas of hostilities are where the polio outbreaks are occurring.

Please share this blog with whomever……..


PolioPlus Assistant Chair, Rotary District 5170


10 thoughts on “Polio Outbreaks and the Endgame Strategy

  1. Charlie – I am a member of Rotary International with a high interest in PolioPlus, eager to serve with discretion and expediency. Could you please put some ‘shoe leather’ to your comment: “The GPEI members, which include all Rotarians, must remain vigilant. We must all work toward peace and resolution conflict around the world since current areas of hostilities are where the polio outbreaks are occurring.” – I’m in agreement but need to better understand what ‘vigilance’ looks like as well as working toward peace and conflict resolution. I know what the words mean but what are the means to that end? – I would like to push forward with this agenda item in the year ahead. – Can you spell out what you see as actions that would accomplish some degree – the more the better obviously – of forward movement? – Thank you for your involvement, FB posts and blog. I look forward to ‘marching orders’ – or something. (smile). – Needing direction.

    • Linda…Thank you for reading the blog and your comment. I agree I need to spell it out more and have been swamped lately. I will enter another blog entry in the next day or so and let you know when it has been done. Please tell others in your Rotary Club and district to follow the blog….Charlie

      • Charlie – Will mention your coming blog at Thursday’s meeting. I have no explanation for WHY but I want to be as involved in the End Game as possible. I’ve read RI history, WHO, UNICEF, Gates Foundation support and involvement, seen the maps’ blue areas diminish from many to a mere 3 countries left, have a soft spot for orphans, have been a medic, and am a global cross-cultural type. Having said all that … if you think of any person I should speak with or place I should go to read more just give me the word. – I’m thinking of hosting an ‘International Dinner’ for pre-selected ‘groups’ in town and speak of how far PolioPLUS has come, give them dates/facts, and hopefully warm the invitees up to making pledges of support. – What do you think? I’m a newbie and really feeling my way through this. – Thanks for all you’re doing and hoping Denver weather is agreeable during your stay!

      • Linda….Thanks for the support. My latest blog has been posted. I hope it gives you more to think about in regards to spreading the message that polio still exists and it must be completely eradicated. My next blog which will appear in a couple of days will discuss fund raising. I am starting a district wide effort in my Rotary district selling Mother’s Day cards. The cards have a Mother’s Day theme combined with a PolioPlus theme. We will be shipping the cards to whomever purchases them by April 12. That will be a month before Mother’s Day. Sales are not limited to just my district, 5170 so that your club and district can buy cards from us. All money collected will be sent to The Rotary Foundation for PolioPlus.

  2. Charlie – You may wish to let Brad run with this but I’m happy to announce the card idea this Thursday in our group as well as the other 2 clubs. I’m hoping to speak with them as well about working together on either or both the Mother’s Day card as well as a Nigerian wine/dessert taste. Let me know your thoughts. Thank you!

    • Hi Linda….Thanks again for your efforts. Whatever works for your clubs is fine with me. If Brad wants to meet when I am in Denver that is good too. Raising money for PolioPlus is a good thing no matter how it is done. Your idea of the dinner sounds like fund and would probably be well attended. The Mothers’ Day cards has had a lot of success in my club. We all assume that other clubs will have the same level of success….Charlie

      • Charlie — Could we consider doing both?! Yes..No? — Maybe wine/dessert late March followed with card sales early April? One may appeal to some and one to others. – Your Mothers’ Dy cards are a sure thing. The wine/dessert thing is slowly taking shape but who knows what the ROI may/may not be. Trying to run numbers as we go but always a bit risky with so many pieces to fall into place. – I’ll chat with Brad Thursday to get his input. Thanks, again. The cards could become an annual fundraiser specifically for the PolioPlus purpose!

      • Thanks Linda…..I want to order the print run for the cards around April 1. It would help if you have the number of cards you will be ordering by then.
        The cards will ship to you around April 12 which is a month before Mother’s Day……Charlie

  3. Charlie – How are card sales coming? We’ve put the announcement in our club newsletter for 3 weeks. Can ads be run in the local paper? Maybe there are others who would like to support PolioPlus and would buy a card. Just a thought …

    • Hi Linda…….The cards may sold to anyone. The neat thing about selling the cards is that it raises money for PolioPlus and it educates anyone that receives one about the status of polio eradication. Yes, advertising the cards in anyway would be great. Perhaps your district governor, who I met in Denver, would be interested……..Charlie

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