by Lawrence Furbish, District Polio Plus Chair
I had hoped that there would be great news and I could announce zero polio cases thus far this year, but I found out from our own Mike McGovern, chair of the International Polio Plus Committee, that one case has been discovered in Afghanistan. But take heart, things are improving. In 2017, we ended the year with 22 cases of wild polio virus in two countries (14 in Afghanistan and 8 in Pakistan). In 2016, we had 35 cases in three countries (12 in Afghanistan, 19 in Pakistan, and 4 in Nigeria.) The trend is definitely in the right direction.
Sadly, there was tragic news last week from Pakistan where two polio vaccinators, a mother-daughter team, were shot by assassins on motorcycles. This is the first time in two years that polio eradication workers have been killed. You may remember that several years ago, a number of them were murdered in Pakistan. Pakistan and Afghanistan now coordinate their national immunization days as 200,000 part-time vaccinators in Pakistan and 40,000 in Afghanistan work to give every child under the age of 5 polio drops.
There is great news to report on our District’s End Polio Now giving for the 2017-18 Rotary year. The combined giving goals for our clubs is $53,072, and already this year, individuals and clubs have given $42,449, or 80% of our goal. Seven clubs have met or exceeded the $1,500 in donations TRF is suggesting and several more are close. But, don’t get complacent. There are 8 clubs that have yet to give anything.
You may remember my discussing the Polio Plus Society. This is a group of District 7780 Rotarians who have pledged to give at least $100 a year to Polio Plus until polio is eradicated. One of them asked me if there was any particular time when they needed to make their donation. It is up to you, any time during the Rotary year is fine. We are all subject to the Four Way Test. And if you have not yet joined the Polio Plus Society, perhaps now is the time.