John displayed a picture of a man in an iron lung from about 9 years ago; there are still people living in them. The picture is from the video: The Final Inch.  This video talks about the last phase of Polio eradication.  Anyone who would like to borrow the video can ask John.
 
World Polio Day is  Thursday, October 24th. Hajira Wilson, a powerful force for polio eradication work in this area, died recently and will be honoured at the meeting of the Kingston Rotary Club on Thursday/ Consider making a donation in her honour.
 
John asked Bernie to come forward and speak first. Bernie is a past PolioPlus District chair, working to get our more than 60 clubs involved. Thank you Bernie, for that work.
 
Bernie spoke about Rotary and Polio. In 1973-74, everybody knew about polio. As a matter of fact, we have one survivor in this club, our senior member Terry Hicks. He was told he would never walk again, but he’s still doing well at the age of 90+.  The Philippines were having many Polio cases and decided to do something. The Salk vaccine had just appeared. One Rotary Club in Illinois was asked if they would help with immunization, which they did. It was not talked about much again until 1985, when it was decided that for the 100th anniversary of Rotary in 2005, we would get rid of this terrible disease, which had up to 300,000 cases per year. The 1987 Munich International Rotary Convention, which Bernie attended, was the first start of a real campaign to raise money; a German car company offered a car, to be delivered anywhere in the world, for a draw at 100 DM per ticket. Then an appeal was made to clubs around the world to meet the goal of raising $120 million dollars. But Rotarians are dumb and stupid and they don’t listen, so the raised over $250,000,000! Since then, we have had four other major campaigns. These have raised over 2.2 billion dollars in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which doubles our donation every year.
 
Bernie told us that one of saddest pictures he has ever seen is that of an 8-year-old boy in Venezuela limping away dragging he leg. He was the last case in the Americas. We have now reached a point where there are two countries left in the world, Afghanistan and Pakistan with wild Polio virus. 99%  of cases are on their borders, where tradition, ignorance, and stupidity, means that Polio is still crossing the border. Three years ago we were down to 17 cases; this year unfortunately there have been 88. It just keeps going. In Afghanistan, all cases were on the border except for one case in the north-east of Afghanistan; people have no idea where it came from. For us, polio is a flight away, for them, it is just one kilometre away. We are dealing with the idea, held by some there, that we, by giving immunization to the children, are causing more problem than not. It’s very difficult to break these taboos. In immunization days around the world, many Rotarians, including his daughter Françine and a friend who spent two weeks in India, give the vaccine to children. In the Middle East and Muslim countries, we need women to do this work since men cannot enter the home alone. Normally volunteers pay their own way, but are hosted by local clubs. We give six other vaccines, including measles, along with polio. It’s a never-ending problem. If we were to stop these immunization days, within 10 years we’d be back to up to 400,000 cases a year. For a country to be declared Polio free, it has to be free of cases for three years. Nigeria was again declared Polio free last summer. We must continue immunization, and also re-visit these countries, with WHO, to ensure that the program continues forever. A donation to Polio Plus is something that everyone should consider. You can’t take it with you in the end, you won’t miss it, and you know that somebody is going to win, and that somebody is everybody.
 
John Farrow: 
 
After the Toronto RI Convention, John became interested in the health aspects of polio and the need for surveillance. Rotary is already planning for what happens after final case.
 
What is polio? There are three  types of virus. Type 2 & 3 have been eradicated, which has led to a change in the formulation of the vaccine used. Polio has been around since Egyptian times. There was an outbreak in New York City in 1916 that paralyzed 27,000 people and killed 7,000 in the country. Humans shed the virus through  their stool, so transmission is  closely related to sanitation. The Salk Vaccine came along in 1955, administered by injection, and Sabine’s oral vaccine came along in 1960.
 
Why did Rotary come to focus on polio? The book A Century of Service has a chapter on Polio. Rotary had been working with Crippled Children, through a strong association with Easter Seals, for years. We started with smaller campaigns, including work in the Philippines on one of the first immunizations. Amelda Marcos, “the shoe lady”, wife of President Ferdinand Marcos, was Minister of Health and so had to sign off to give approval. Neither the WHO nor Rotary were really comfortable with the idea of a global effort. Rotary wanted to retain autonomy of individual clubs in deciding on service direction. Nevertheless, after the initial work in The Philippines, RI decided to go all in. It was the first time that Rotary started looking for major gifts. 
 
In the 1988 RI Convention, RI moved from control to eradication. Why eradication not control? As Bernie said, it’s only a walk away. It’s only a plane ride away. Right now, there are 70.8 million people in the world that are displaced (UNHCR’s annual Global Trends Report, June 19, 2019). Millions of people  are on the move, Syrians refugees are being monitored very closely because they are living in appalling conditions ripe for the spread of any kind of disease. We also have to face the anti-vaccine movement. The United States of America is about to lose its measles-free declaration, because many think vaccinations are dangerous or not important. Surprisingly, the last case of Polio in Europe was just in 2015 in the Ukraine. In 2016, the year of the World Cup in Brazil, the virus was discovered there in the sewage system. The WHO currently monitors sewage systems in 34 high-risk countries around the world.
 
Why do we use the oral vaccine? It’s easier to make, cheaper, and easier to distribute, especially with volunteers - you can’t send them out with syringes. The oral vaccine is better at controlling outbreaks and conferring herd immunity, helping to stop transmission. However, the oral vaccine, in rare cases, can mutate and cause vaccine-derived polio, so there is a small risk. Once we eradicate polio (we’ve targeted $4.2 billion for the final push), we can move, with a lot of training and money, to using the injected vaccine (dead vaccine). But then all live vaccine will have to be destroyed.
 
We have to keep vaccinating in eradicated areas. We need stores of vaccine for that and for outbreaks. The WHO also investigates 100,000 cases of paralysis around the world to determine causes—polio, encephalitis, or others. This is the largest non-military effort in history. It takes a huge army of volunteers. But what happens after the last case? We will continue to vaccinate in the 60 highest risk countries, and continue to monitor cases of paralysis. We will replace the live oral with the injectable dead vaccine, and will destroy all of the live virus vaccines. The PolioPlus program will monitor where the virus is stored around the world, making sure they’re secure.
 
What’s the “Plus” in PolioPlus? See Rotarian, October 2019 (vol. 198 #4). Vaccination has left a legacy of health care improvements in the countries where immunization has been conducted . Some countries need clean water more than vaccine, so bringing clean water to them is part of the work. Jobs are needed for the disabled—polio survivors are helped by Rotarians to find work. Additional medication is included with the polio vaccine, including Vitamin A. That is estimated to have prevented 1.25M deaths from other diseases. Surveillance systems in place have been used to thwart other outbreaks, e.g., Ebola in Nigeria, and Yellow Fever. Often we are giving out bed nets during vaccination. Malaria might be the next thing we try to eliminate. And we are engaging survivors, who become the best advocates for encouraging vaccinations.
 
Bernie: In 2008, an American Family went to the Middle East on vacation and came back with 3 children with the polio virus (which was not publicized) - the last known case in the U.S.A.
 
Donations may be made to The Rotary Foundation Canada (label PolioPlus), by cheque or online.
 
Ana presented a loaf of bread to John and Bernie to share, in thanks for their work and their enlightening presentation.
 
 
 
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