LETTER – There is still work to be done to fully eradicate polio

World Polio Day October 24

Dear editor,

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rotary and the world got some very good viral news. In August, the WHO declared Africa the sixth continent to be free of the wild polio viruses. It is an old virus having been around for at least two millennia. It has taken an extraordinary effort and a combination of public health officials, Rotary, and public and private sponsors to get this far.

As I joined Rotary some 35 years ago, Rotary was deciding to take on the challenge of ridding the world of the polioviruses. At that time no continent was polio-free. Rotarians started on their own, but were soon joined by WHO, UNICEF, the US Center for Disease Prevention and Control and subsequently the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Together we formed the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). Together this health partnership is now very close to ending wild polio transmission everywhere.

While most of Asia, the last remaining inflicted continent, has been polio-free for a few years, wild polio is still endemic in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

To ensure that polio does not remerge, vaccinations of young children must continue everywhere. However, during the earlier days of COVID-19, door-to-door vaccination was paused to safeguard against inadvertently spreading the virus. But by May, the countless polio community workers in emerging countries were helping communicate COVID awareness and safety practices, helping with contract tracing and community surveillance.

And in recent weeks they have combined that work with a restart of polio vaccination efforts.

Globally, Rotarians have raised approximately $1 billion (usd) to fight polio which has been matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A continuing effort of advocacy has resulted in governments of the world stepping up too. For instance, while North America has been polio-free since 1994, a succession of Canadian federal governments have contributed a total of close to $500 million (cdn) towards the global eradication effort.

On Oct. 24, the world will mark the annual World Polio Day. With only two of 195 countries endemic, we have much to celebrate – we are closer than ever to eradicate polio, but there is more work to be done.

As we have seen with the COVID-19 virus, as long as the virus has somewhere to hide, it is only a plane or boat ride away.

Rotary and the Gates Foundation committed earlier this year to raise another $450 million (USD) over the next three years to continue the fight, with The Gates Foundation matching Rotary contributions on a 2:1 basis.

If you would like to help rid the world of the scourge of polio, please contact any one of the Valley’s five Rotary clubs.

Richard Clarke,


Letter to the Editor

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Father Charles has devoted his life to protecting and preserving natural habitats and has inspired generations of volunteers to work together to protect and preserve forests and rivers. Photo submitted
Valley environmentalist and Catholic priest-hermit Father Charles Brandt passes away

He devoted his life to protecting and preserving natural habitats

Carolyn and Steve Touhey came across a pod of humpback whales while on their boat Sunday, Oct. 25. Photo supplied
VIDEO: Boaters encounter pod of humpbacks near Comox

A Comox Valley family had a meeting with a humpback whale family… Continue reading

Candice Woloshyn prepares her flower beds for the next season at her ‘Dirty Girl Flowers’ farm in Merville. Despite the pandemic, Woloshyn was able to sustain her homegrown business as community members opted for regular deliveries of fresh cut flowers. Photo by Binny Paul/ Campbell River Mirror.
Vancouver Island flower farmers were blooming as the pandemic wilted everything else

Floriculturists saw increased subscriptions as fresh flowers became a ‘sight for sore eyes’ during isolation

The Bernice Friesen novel, “Universal Disorder,” will be launched via Zoom on Nov. 14. Photo supplied.
Fat Oyster Reading Series hosting online launch of new novel by Comox Valley author

Fanny Bay’s Fat Oyster Reading Series is going digital, for the launch… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A picture of John taken at Children’s Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River parking lot

The seven-year-old has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

Starting Saturday and continuing until April 3, the Comox Valley Farmers Market will operate at the Native Sons Hall and the parking lot between the hall and the Sid Williams Theatre. (File photo)
Comox Valley Farmers Market secures space

Starting Saturday, Oct. 31, the Comox Valley Farmers Market will expand its… Continue reading

A video message from Mrime Minister Justin Trudeau was streamed to attendees at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Tuesday morning. (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance image)
Prime minister greets Vancouver Island economic summit attendees

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance conference being held virtually this week

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Most Read