Posted by Jim Garrett
Dave Smith on Polio Plus
Dave undertook to provide some information about the Rotary International Project to eradicate polio in cooperation with the Gates Foundation, and about our individual club’s participation.
He began by recounting that among the 56 Clubs in our Rotary District, Pagosa Rotary last year ranked number six in total value of contributions, at over $3000.  But in the two prior years, he said, our contributions had been negligible.  The difference he attributed to a determined effort spearheaded by Neal Johnson and Sam Pittmon, begun last year.
Dave explained that the significance of the global effort to eradicate polio lies in a unique characteristic of the virus that transmits the disease: unlike the organisms which transmit other deadly diseases, it lives only in a human host and is not carried by insects or animals.  So eradication is a real possibility through universal immunization, but as long as immunization is incomplete anywhere, with modern trade and travel, it could re-emerge everywhere.
The logic behind the eradication effort has sometimes been misunderstood in the few nations where polio still exists, Dave reported.  He played a video from Pakistan, reporting that young women working to vaccinate children have been shot dead by tribal extremists in remote areas.  So the effort to eradicate polio demands more than health care workers to vaccinate children, he noted, but also education to overcome opposition from community leaders.
Thanks to the substantial funding by Rotary and the Gates Foundation, Dave added, the effort is paying off.  Many of the clerics in remote areas who have been roadblocks impeding the immunization effort have been and are being persuaded to change their views.  So the goal of universal eradication remains in view despite pockets of resistance.