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‘More Is Needed’ In Global Effort To Eradicate Polio Virus

In a Deseret News opinion piece, John Hoffmire, a professor at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, reflects on the global effort to eradicate polio, writing, “The world is now, 25 years [after Rotary International, a humanitarian organization made up of nearly 1.2 million members in more than 200 countries, began a process to purge polio from the planet], on the verge of eliminating one of the most dreaded diseases of the 20th century.” He notes, “To date, Rotary clubs worldwide have contributed $1.2 billion to the protection of more than two billion children in 122 countries,” adding, “Since 1995, donor governments have contributed in excess of $6 billion to polio eradication, due in part to Rotary’s advocacy efforts.” However, he continues, “much more is needed. More than 20 years of steady progress is at stake, and polio — now on the ropes — stands to stage a dangerous comeback unless the funding gap is bridged.”

“Today, there are only three countries in the world where polio still breeds, Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan,” Hoffmire writes, adding, “Outbreaks occur elsewhere from time to time, and nearly all of those cases can be traced back to these three countries.” He notes a resurgence of the virus in Somalia and the Horn of Africa as well as a new outbreak in a part of Pakistan, and he highlights two recently published articles on the final push for worldwide eradication. “Because of such persistence and focus, in June of this year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary helped fund the campaign with another $535 million pledged for the future,” he states, concluding, “Once eradicated, polio will join smallpox as one of only two diseases ever eliminated. And the volunteers of Rotary will continue their humanitarian work, living up to its motto, ‘service above self'” (9/9).