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Pakistan scoring great gains against Polio

Pakistan is making progress against polio in the face of challenging, sometimes tragic circumstances, including the recent killing of a local community polio immunization worker and wounding of two others — a staff member of the World Health Organization and an international consultant — in Karachi, Sindh. In addition, leaders in a small region of the northern part of the country have banned polio vaccinations.

WHO issued a statement expressing condolences to the family of the worker who died, adding, “The partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative remain committed to supporting the government of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan in their efforts to eradicate this devastating disease.”

Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria are the only remaining polio-endemic countries in the world. The incidence of polio in Pakistan has dropped by more than 60 percent this year, with 23 cases reported as of 12 July, compared with 59 cases during the same period last year.

In support of Pakistan’s polio eradication efforts, Rotary recently installed two mobile clinics at checkpoints between Karachi and other parts of Sindh. The clinics are staffed 24 hours a day and supervised by WHO. Rotary also provided 45,000 vaccine carriers to the government in April.

After 25 years of hard work, Rotary and its partners are on the brink of eradicating this tenacious disease, but a strong push is needed now to root it out once and for all. It is a window of opportunity of historic proportions.  Reaching the ultimate goal of a polio-free world presents ongoing challenges, not the least of which is a US$535 million funding gap through 2012. Of course, Rotary alone can’t fill this gap, but continued Rotarian advocacy for government support can help enormously. Fremantle Rotary continues to support this initiative through its ongoing support of the Rotary Foundation.