R. I. President and Trustee Message - October

RI President 2022-23 Jennifer Jones
Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland
Ontario, Canada

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Dear Fellow Rotarians, Rotaractors, and friends,

In August, I was proud to visit Pakistan and highlight Rotary’s top goal, eradicating polio. It was also a tremendous opportunity to spotlight female health workers who are playing a critical role in protecting children from this vaccine-preventable disease.

This month, as we celebrate World Polio Day, we are shining a spotlight on our more than 30-year effort to lead the first global polio eradication campaign and our success in forming partnerships capable of completing this massive goal. We all know that this is one of the most ambitious global health initiatives in history and that we’ve reduced polio cases by more than 99.9 percent worldwide.

Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where wild poliovirus remains endemic. (The other is neighboring Afghanistan.) I was able to witness and take part in vaccination campaigns in Pakistan, and soon after I left, a monumental nationwide immunization campaign took place, focused on 43 million children under the age of 5. I saw the incredible work of Rotary members on the ground. More than 60 percent of vaccinators in Pakistan are women, and they are doing a remarkable job building trust and convincing mothers to vaccinate their children.

Seeing it all firsthand, I know that the will exists across the Rotary world to end polio, and I’m confident that we have the strategy. The Pakistani media has been very supportive of our efforts as well, and this is making a difference. This month, a new global pledging moment at the World Health Summit in Berlin promises to pull together more resources to fund these time-sensitive eradication efforts. Now it is up to us to do our part and raise $50 million this year to earn the full 2-to-1 match from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

There’s great cause for optimism on the polio front — but also some staggering new events that have further raised the stakes. Over the past few months, new polio outbreaks have occurred in Israel, the United Kingdom and, most recently, in the New York City area. These stories are frightening, but in every case, the response is clear — vaccines work, and if polio is spreading, we need to make sure the most at-risk people have kept their vaccinations up to date.

Most importantly, we need to eradicate this virus now. If polio exists anywhere, it can spread everywhere. What I saw in Pakistan convinced me that we can and must finish the job, but it will only happen if we remain committed to a strategy that’s working and back it with all necessary resources. 
Through our commitment, generosity, and sheer determination, we will #EndPolio.

Jennifer Jones
President 2022-23

Trustee Chair's Message - October 2022

Ian H.S. Riseley
Trustee Chair 2022-23
Sandringham, Victoria, Australia,

Trustee chair's message

October 2022
Who are your Rotary heroes? One of mine was Clem Renouf, 1978-79 RI president. I related to Sir Clem, who died in 2020, in many ways. We shared the same profession and Australian nationality and a passion for polio eradication. It was Clem’s leadership that first put us on track to embrace the cause, mobilizing what is today a global partnership that has led us to the cusp of eradicating a human disease for only the second time in history.

What Rotary and its partners have achieved is nothing short of remarkable. We have helped reduce polio cases by 99.9 percent worldwide, immunizing more than 2 billion children across 122 countries. Last year alone, more than 370 million children were vaccinated across 30 countries, using more than 1 billion doses of oral polio vaccine. As a result, we are seeing near historic lows in the number of cases. In August 2020, the World Health Organization African region was certified free of wild poliovirus, an incredible achievement for Rotary members and a huge step on the road to eradication.

But remember that as long as polio exists anywhere, it is a threat to people everywhere, especially to young children. You may have heard about importations of the disease to Malawi and Mozambique, detection of poliovirus in sewage in the UK, and a recent case in the U.S.

To stay agile, Rotary and its partners are deploying a new polio vaccine, novel oral polio vaccine type 2 (nOPV2), to fight outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus, also known as variant poliovirus, which continues to threaten children in Africa, as well as several countries in Asia and the Middle East, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Rotary is as active as ever. We are calling on every member to take action and be part of this historic fight. Take the fight to your clubs and communities on World Polio Day, 24 October. Keep raising awareness of the importance of polio eradication and Rotary’s critical role in that effort by holding events and fundraisers. Don’t forget that contributions toward the goal of $50 million per year for polio eradication will be matched 2-to-1 by our generous partner, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Like Sir Clem, we can all be Rotary heroes, each playing a part in our organization’s great legacy. Through giving, raising awareness and funds, and providing hands-on service, each of us brings Rotary a step closer to fulfilling our promise to the children of the world by eradicating polio for good. 

http://www.endpolio.org/donate.

Ian H.S. Riseley
Trustee Chair 2022-23

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