Polio is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus, which spreads from person to person and can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis. There is no known cure for Polio, but there is a vaccine that can completely prevent it.

This vaccine has been distributed in Polio hot-spots by volunteer Rotarians preventing millions of estimated new cases of Polio.

For the past 35 years, Rotarians from the greater Seattle-area have worked with Rotarians around the globe in ending the suffering from this deadly, life altering disease.

Unlike Coronavirus, or the common flu (which will likely always be a constant companion to the Human Race) the limited distribution of remaining Polio cases and the proactive approach to Polio’s eradication by Rotary and other stakeholders in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, can end this virus’s impact on humanity. This means that once people the last remaining hot-spot areas are vaccinated, the Polio virus will likely become part of humanity’s history; forever.

Ezra Teshome is the Seattle Area Rotary District 5030 Rotary Polio Plus Chair. For many years, Teshome has traveled with other Seattle Rotarians to Polio hot-spots around the world to give out free doses of the polio vaccine paid for in part by Rotary District 5030, Rotary International, and in recent years, massive financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation who are currently turning every dollar donated to polio eradication into three dollars.

According to Teshome:

“After more than 30 years of effort, the World Health Organization declared its African region free of wild polio in August. Only Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to report cases of the wild virus.”

“We are approaching World Polio Day on October 24th, a reminder of the gains we have made against a disease that once terrorized people everywhere,” Teshome added. “We can completely eradicate polio. This was an incredible achievement for Rotary and our partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), and while I am eager to celebrate this progress I am also concerned.”

Earlier this year, polio immunization campaigns in vulnerable countries had to be temporarily paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all the while, the polio eradication program has played a vital role in lending its infrastructure to support the COVID-19 response.

As polio immunization activities begin to safely resume in countries where polio remains a danger, we must do our part to continue the march toward global eradication because as long as polio exists anywhere, it remains a threat everywhere.

Rotarians from around the Seattle area, join those around the world in exchanging ideas and taking action related to the last two remaining Polio hot-spots. Rotary needs your help.

To donate, or get involved, please go to www.rotaryjoinus.org to learn more and register for the World Polio Day presentation happening virtually in Seattle on Oct. 24, 2020.