Polio update

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

A new case of polio in the USA and the discovery of poliovirus in sewage in England - this news raises the question of where we currently stand in the fight against polio. Rotary and the WHO have been working together with strong partners for decades to eradicate the wild poliovirus - and with great success. To better understand the recent cases, here is an overview of recent developments.

Current status in figures

The total number of acute polio cases reported so far this year is 19. Of these 19 cases, 14 were reported in Pakistan, one in Afghanistan and 4 in Mozambique. In the same time period, only six cases were reported in 2021. Vaccine polio cases have been reported 230 so far this year.

The polio case in the USA was probably brought from abroad (Pakistan) by an unvaccinated person. Therefore, this case is not a cause for alarm, but it shows that as many people as possible still need to be vaccinated against polio worldwide. 

Vaccination coverage rates

So what is the situation in this country regarding vaccinations? In Germany, it was found in 2017 that 92.9% of the population was adequately vaccinated against polio. 700,000 people were not or insufficiently vaccinated against polio.

A 2020 survey in Austria showed that 11.5% of 10-16 year olds were insufficiently vaccinated and 20,500 people were not vaccinated at all.

In Switzerland, an average vaccination coverage rate of 95 per cent can be assumed.

Donation status and appeal

In our area (Zones 15 and 16), Rotary members have responded to the appeal and continued to donate heavily for polio (USD 2,025,719, Switzerland alone 380,025) despite last year's flood disaster in our neighbouring countries.

There are several ways to help. For example, you can become a member of the PolioPlusSociety and commit to donating a minimum of 100 CHF/Euro/USD per year to PolioPlus.

Rotary clubs can help find one Major Donor (10,000 CHF) per district who is willing to donate the amount in favour of polio. The districts' important DDF contributions are also part of the funding for the successful immunisation campaigns.

In view of the polio case in the United States, Urs Herzog emphasised in a recent interview in the German Rotary magazine how important it is not to let up in the fight against polio. 

Polio-related events

24 October 2022 is World Polio Day, which we at Rotary always use to raise awareness about polio and our commitment. World Polio Day is the perfect opportunity for events to raise funds or awareness. The following events for polio are already scheduled:

  • 21-22 October: Rotary Day with WHO with World President Jennifer Jones and WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and fundraising event in the evening.
  • 24 October: World Polio Day
  • 4 November: Benefit concert at the "Don Bosco" Cultural Centreel/shop/event/74812/#event
  • 2-6 November: At the Rotary Institute in Basel, on the afternoon of 4 November and chaired by PDG Emma Groenen, Aidan O'Leary (Director Polio at WHO) and Melissa Corkum (Senior Manager at UNICEF, responsible for polio) will report.

The recent news around polio is not a cause for concern, but should be a wake-up call to step up our efforts in the fight against polio in order to eradicate this disease for good and thus save many lives.

More information around World Polio Day on 24 October 2022 will follow in early October.

Janine Keller