Polio – what has Rotary done?


October 24th is World Polio Day – Have we made a difference? Yes we have.

As the number of polio cases approaches zero, the challenges facing Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are changing. We still need to reach every child with the polio vaccine – and we’re using innovative strategies to do that, in spite of geopolitical uncertainties. That’s only one part of our job – we’re tackling vaccine-derived poliovirus, which can begin to spread in places where vaccine coverage is low. We’re becoming disease detectives, following up on any shred of evidence that wild poliovirus might still be circulating, and we’re fine-tuning our plan to keep the world free of polio forever.

Here’s what you need to know about where we are now.

  • Polio is an intestinal virus that is spread through contact with the faeces of an infected person, which can contaminate water or food.
  • The poliovirus is a single positive strand of RNA enclosed in a protective coating called a capsid.
  • There are three variations, or serotypes, of the poliovirus. They differ in their outer coatings.
  • The few cases of wild poliovirus that we see now are all of type 1. The last case of type 2 was in 1999, and the world was certified free of type 2 polio in 2015. The last case of type 3 was in 2012.
  • The virus infects only humans, mainly children under five because they are least likely to be fully vaccinated. There is no cure.

How we get infected

  1. The virus latches onto a receptor on the surface of a cell, multiplying in the lining of the intestines.
  2. It enters the cell and hijacks the cell’s own machinery to make copies of itself.
  3. The virus is released to infect neighbouring cells, spreading from the digestive tract to lymph nodes and the bloodstream.
  4. The virus replicates and is excreted through faeces, starting the cycle again.

Rotary and its partners worked to reach 430 million children in 39 countries during polio immunization campaigns in 2017.

What has Rotary done?

Rotarians have negotiated ceasefires
As Sri Lanka’s chair of Rotary’s polio eradication efforts, past president of Rotary International Ravindran led efforts to eradicate polio from Sri Lanka. His country became one of the first in Asia to become polio-free in Asia. The PolioPlus task force which he headed consisted of representatives from Rotary, UNICEF and the Sri Lankan government. The partnership successfully negotiated a ceasefire with the northern militants to allow polio immunizations to continue during scheduled National Immunization Days.

Polio programme has had an impact on other childhood diseases

However eradicating polio has meant that vaccines for other diseases have reached children too. 2.6 million children die from measles but as a result of the immunisation programme that accompanies polio, deaths have been reduced to 89, 780 deaths which is an 85% decrease.

Rotary funds 12-19% of the Communicable Diseases’ Centres in Africa.

When the Ebola outbreak occurred in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. It was a Communicable Disease Centre in West Africa identified it. Health workers switched from polio vaccinations to controlling Ebola.
Donating to polio improves the health of children and ensures their future.


Join Rotary International on October 24th by marking World Polio Day and raise awareness of this incredibly journey and effort by one of the worlds leading service organisations

Visit endpolio.org for more information



Leading the way into the future

As Thames Valley District Governor I am fortunate to see #rotaryinaction via the range of youth programs Rotary provides. In July I had the pleasure of joining the Rotary Youth Leadership Award participants from the Thames Valley at their week away.


The Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is a course that takes the theory of leadership and implements it in practice. Rotary in the Thames Valley (District 1090) offers this course to people aged between 18-25 and it takes place in July.

Rotary pays for the course which includes food and accommodation and all we ask from the participant is to give up a week’s annual leave, and come back to their sponsoring clubs to tell us all about it.

The eager participants arrive on a Saturday and start on Sunday. They are split up into groups which are named after animals. Then the team building begins. There are various exercises done. This includes “Getting the Paper Coated Barrel with 3 eggs inside up a Gorge”. This is quite a challenge in that the aim is to go up a gorge with running water and not lose all the paper on the barrel and break all the eggs.

Throughout the different exercises the teams are supported by an instructor who not only provide practical experience but they also make the teams think about what they are doing, how this is used in team building, what they did well and also what they could improve on. How a team supports each member to achieve their potential. The instructors also get the team members to state how it went. This really teaches them how to give constructive criticism and I saw this in action in that the participants did state how it went but they also stated what was good.

I arrived on the day that the teams started to work together to problem solve whilst blindfold and constructing a coracle out of canes and black plastic with finite resources. The theory session covered the different types of leadership styles and characteristics and how they can be implemented. It also covered the advantages and disadvantages of each of the leadership styles. This was reinforced during the different exercises.

I had the chance to join in too! There was an element of democracy in that the first team to get all the team members in the coracle in batches around a buoy could then get an instructor or Rotarian into the coracle. So there was an element of pace setting in that teams were eager to get as many points in the time set and having a Rotarian meant bonus points. It was lots of fun.

The course continues with individual team members being taught skills which they then have to teach to other members of the group on the 30 hour challenge.

I observed participants grow in self confidence, the more reserved members of the team having confidence to make their point, yes there were natural leaders but it was noted that everyone took something away with them. RYLA changes lives and gives young people an opportunity to learn about leadership through interaction and allowing them to discuss how the different leadership styles worked, it took them out of their comfort zones but they learnt the valuable lesson that through teamwork it is possible to overcome challenges and succeed.

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook for more Rotary updates across Thames Valley.

Rotary in the Thames Valley – a New Dimension

Thames Valley e-Rotary is a new venture, introducing a different set of opportunities for those wishing to support their local community but unable to participate regularly though pressures of work, family or travel. This new group operates online with regular discussions, interesting speakers and support for local communities..

Does your day consist of a regular commute, long hours working to earn a living and enhance your career, and the remaining time spent with the family? Or are you a mother with young children, finding that keeping them occupied and out of mischief is a full time occupation? Or maybe your coming up to retirement and looking for new interests and a new circle of friends? Whatever the reason, is one day very much like the next?

Yet, deep down, you’d also like an opportunity to make a positive contribution to local life?

Your main barrier is lack of time!

Thames Valley e-Rotary could offer a solution. No matter your background, age, experience or skills, Rotary can bring a new dimension into your life. Why not try us and find out for yourself? .  Our aim is to offer Rotary 24/7 so you can keep informed of the latest developments and projects and offer what time you can to participate in activities undertaken by ordinary people just like yourself.

Contact Secretary Anne Cooper at Thames Valley e-Rotary and we’ll get back to you.

Thames Valley e-Rotary – a new online group

‘Working for a better World’.