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Yes, it is true. Polio is resurging in 2013, after giving ground in recent years. In 2012, India was declared polio free for the first time in history. Rotary played a BIG role in this achievement. Total polio cases worldwide in 2012 numbered only 223, a new historic low. Unfortunately, 2013 has already recorded 296 polio cases and we have more than a quarter of the year left.

ENDPOLIONOWWhere are the problems? Not India, which so far remains polio free. Of the three remaining endemic countries Pakistan is almost exactly where they were at the same time last year (43 cases vs. 44 last year). Afghanistan is showing progress with only 7 cases so far in 2013 (compared to 25 at this time in 2012). Nigeria is also showing some improvement with 49 cases so far in 2013 (compared to 97 at this time in 2013). The greatest problems have been new cases in countries considered polio free. These countries have young children that have not been vaccinated and they are like tinder waiting for a spark to start the next outbreak.

Where have the outbreaks occurred? The biggest problem has been east Africa where there have been 174 new cases in Somalia plus 14 cases in Kenya, 6 cases in Ethiopia and 3 cases in South Sudan. This total (197 cases) in non-endemic countries is more than double the number of cases in the three endemic countries and reflects the rapid spread of outbreaks.

Today, news is coming out of a new polio outbreak in Syria. These reports remain unconfirmed, but preliminary tests and medical field reports seem to suggest that there may be dozens of new cases now affecting Syria. Polio appearing in such parts of the world comes as no surprise to health workers because the appalling conditions of these war-torn regions create huge sanitation problems for the surviving populations…exactly the kind of conditions suitable for spread of polio virus, particularly affecting the unvaccinated younger children.

We dare not ignore these outbreaks! They need to be contained with rapid vaccination response to surround each outbreak area with new vaccinations to contain the virus and prevent further spread. Rotary’s Polio Plus is the major source of funding for the polio vaccines used worldwide.


Go to: http://www.endpolio.org/ or make your contribution to your local club.

Thank you, for any amount you can donate.


Delane Wycoff
(Polio Plus Chair, Rotary District 5630)