As District 5840’s PolioPlus Chair for 2020-2021, I will be writing a blog on the status of PolioPlus and events related to it. The blog will be on Wordpress and will be readily available to the public there, on Facebook, and on Twitter. The blog will be placed on the District 5840 website in the enhanced PolioPlus section.
The section will have links to documents, videos, slide presentations, and other media. The idea is to keep Rotarians and the general public informed on the status of eradicating polio worldwide.
If you are reading this, you are probably well aware of PolioPlus as the effort Rotary started in 1985. Rotary partners with several other worldwide agencies to eradicate polio. With Rotary’s orchestration, the partners formed the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988.
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.

CLICK here to see a video on “This Close”

The GPEI in 2019 came out with the document entitled “Polio Endgame Strategy 2019-2023,” which is included in the enhanced PolioPlus section on the district website. The Endgame Strategy that is being implemented by the GPEI takes into account the reality of case numbers flaring up because of political realities in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan. 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. The final stages of eliminating polio will be to use injections instead of drops.

RISK MITIGATION: The plan anticipates and prepares for potential challenges, including political 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: Successes accomplished since 1985 are built upon to provide strategies for overcoming potential obstacles. The infrastructure built for PolioPlus has been applied to control the Ebola outbreak in Africa Dec 26, 2013 – Jun 9, 2016. The current covid-19 pandemic is using the infrastructure to locate and monitor cases.
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 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 conflict resolution around the world since current areas of hostilities are where the polio outbreaks are occurring.

Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments. I would be happy to attend your club meeting online to discuss the PolioPlus effort.
Charlie Wasser
PolioPlus Chair 2020-2021
Rotary District 5840