Eradicating Polio – A Rotary Priority

Derby-Shelton Rotary is proud to partner with other Rotary Clubs around the world and the Rotary Foundation to help eliminate Polio. Here is the latest update:



The following article is adapted from a review of the past year provided by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The GPEI, of which Rotary is a member, has two goals: 1) to interrupt all remaining transmission of endemic wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1). 2) to stop all outbreaks of variant poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2). 2023 was a critical year for progressing on each of these goals.

Article by PDG Murray Verso, End Polio Now Coordinator

At Guilding Angel School Tunga, Minna, Niger – image by: WHO/AFRO


Working in endemic countries to eliminate Wild Polio Virus

Despite significant geo-political and environmental challenges in the two remaining WPV1-endemic countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the polio programme has continued to reach greater numbers of children with polio vaccines.

Wild polio transmission was beaten back to just a handful of districts in eastern Afghanistan (6 cases) and the southern area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan (6 cases). The number ‘zero dose’ children continue to dwindle in both countries. Just one family of the virus remains endemic in each country, and coupled with this increasing geographic restriction, the situation resembles the end of wild polio eradication efforts in former virus hotspots like India, Nigeria and Egypt.

In addition, after a wild poliovirus outbreak in 2022, neither Malawi nor Mozambique have reported a WPV case since August 2022 thanks to a concerted subregional emergency response across five neighbouring countries.

Progress on variant polio outbreaks (457 cases)

Thanks to the novel oral polio vaccine type 2 (nOPV2), strong political commitment and community-based efforts to reach more children with the vaccine, the number of cases of variant poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) continued to decline in 2023. • The 457 cases in 2023 is a dramatic reduction on the 2022 figure of 914.

Nearly 1 billion doses of nOPV2, a comparably safe, effective, but more genetically stable version of the existing type 2 oral polio vaccine (mOPV2), have now been administered across 35 countries, protecting millions of children from illness and paralysis.

Finally, In September 2023, after a massive vaccination response in the shadow of ongoing war, Ukraine officially stopped its outbreak of type 2 variant polio that began in 2021. New York, London, and Jerusalem, where high-profile outbreaks began in 2022, have not detected the virus in recent months. Still, the emergence of polio in these areas is a reminder that as long as poliovirus exists anywhere, it is a threat to people everywhere.

A global effort

Most importantly, thanks to the efforts of the GPEI partners, health workers vaccinated more than 400 million children in 2023, preventing an estimated 650,000 cases of paralysis from polio and saving the lives of up to 60,000 children. Building full, healthy futures was at the core of Rotary International’s mission when it began this fight to end polio for good in 1985, and when the GPEI was launched in 1988—35 years ago.

2023 has firmly set the stage for success. Thank you to all who have contributed to this effort so far and continue to do so. Let us double down and make the dream of a polio-free world a reality

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