CDC and Rotarians Celebrate Partnership and the Promise of Polio Eradication

Posted on by Nikki Grimsley, CHES, health communication specialist, CDC Emergency Risk Communication Branch
Author: Nikki Grimsley, CHES, health communication specialist, Emergency Risk Communication Branch
Nikki Grimsley, CHES, health communication specialist, CDC Emergency Risk Communication Branch

As part of World Immunization Week activities, April 20 – 26 2013, more than 75 members of Rotary International from Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina visited CDC’s Roybal Campus on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 to celebrate Polio Day.

I had the privilege of accompanying a group of Rotarians as they toured the CDC Museum, polio laboratory, and Emergency Operations Center.  During the event, I spoke with Charlie Augello, a member of the Dunwoody Rotary Club, and his wife Anita, who settled in Atlanta after living all over the East Coast. Mr. Augello remarked, “It has been awakening to visit CDC and meet the talented and dedicated CDC staff who are contributing to global polio eradication efforts. I have a much better appreciation of the work that is being done at CDC and around the world.”

Local Rotarians remind us that we are “this close” to eradicating polio. Photo courtesy of Mark Fletcher/CDC.
Local Rotarians remind us that we are “this close” to eradicating polio. Photo courtesy of Mark Fletcher/CDC.

Dr. Olen Kew, senior science advisor, in the Polio and Picornavirus Laboratory Branch, and Dr. Cara Burns, microbiologist, led tours of the polio laboratories. During the tours, Drs. Kew and Burns praised Rotary International’s invaluable contributions to help build the Global Polio Laboratory Network. Rotary International’s partnership provides resources to equip the laboratories and provides thousands of volunteers who work globally on polio eradication efforts. While in the laboratories, Dr. Kew, who described the Global Polio Laboratory Network as a “great big family of friends,” stopped to allow the Rotarians to observe genetic sequencing in action. Dr. Kew told the groups, “So much progress has been made through global cooperation, and exciting new technologies allow work that would have taken one microbiologist an entire career to complete is now accomplished in two weeks!”

Roy Wise, President, Rotary International Dunwoody Club, gave an inspiring address to CDC staff and local Rotarians. Photo courtesy of Mark Fletcher/CDC.
Roy Wise, President, Rotary International Dunwoody Club, gave an inspiring address to CDC staff and local Rotarians. Photo courtesy of Mark Fletcher/CDC.

After the tours, CDC staff and Rotarians gathered to hear from CDC polio experts and Roy Wise, President of the Rotary International Dunwoody Club. Mr. Wise recognized the extraordinary partnership between Rotary International and CDC, highlighting the great work that Rotary International has galvanized by influencing local, national, and international leaders to support polio eradication efforts. I was inspired by his concluding remarks when he reminded everyone, “We are in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. We will win this game.”

Dr. Robb Linkins, Chief of the Disease Eradication and Elimination Branch, also spoke at the event and recognized Rotary International’s tremendous contributions, support, and enthusiasm that both CDC and Rotary International share about the progress that has been made in recent years. He cited India’s accomplishment of being polio-free for more than two years and the work that led to achieving this milestone despite huge public health challenges. 

Special Advisor to CDC’s Global Immunization Division, Dr. Stephen Cochi, commended Rotary International for their incredible generosity and support for global polio eradication, citing the service of many Rotarians on the front lines. He also noted that 165 people are currently deployed through the Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program to support polio eradication activities in 33 countries. Over the years, a number of Rotarians have participated in the STOP program.

CDC’s Alan Janssen speaking with an Atlanta Rotarian about the past, present, and future of the partnership between CDC and Rotary International. Photo courtesy of Mark Fletcher/CDC.
CDC’s Alan Janssen speaking with an Atlanta Rotarian about the past, present, and future of the partnership between CDC and Rotary International. Photo courtesy of Mark Fletcher/CDC.

Dr. Cochi presented about the Polio Eradication Endgame Strategic Plan (2013-2018): the goal is to interrupt the transmission of poliovirus in the remaining three endemic countries in 2013 and to achieve global certification of polio eradication by 2018. The plan builds upon recent progress and addresses long-standing operational challenges including reaching hard-to-reach children; new risks, specifically those related to insecurity; and the need for affordable inactivated polio vaccines. The plan also looks beyond polio to adapt the program’s infrastructure to help deliver other vital health services to the world’s most vulnerable children.

Today, the promise of polio eradication is as close as it has ever been. In 2012, there were the fewest number of polio cases in the fewest number of countries ever. Worldwide in 2012, there were 223 polio cases in three endemic countries compared to 350,000 cases in 125 endemic countries in 1988. As depicted in the Rotarian campaign, we are indeed “this close” to eradicating polio. Because of the strong partnership between CDC and Rotary International and the other GPEI partners, polio eradication is within our reach. Yes, Mr. Wise, we will win this game.

Rotary International is one of the spearheading partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and has contributed more than $1.2 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect more than two billion children from polio in 122 countries.

Posted on by Nikki Grimsley, CHES, health communication specialist, CDC Emergency Risk Communication Branch

2 comments on “CDC and Rotarians Celebrate Partnership and the Promise of Polio Eradication”

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    Hello

    I am master student at UNSW in Australia doing a project about polio. in this project I have to design an object to help polio patient live thier life easier. Do you have any ideas for that??

    Bcoz we don’t have polio cases I don’t know how is their life.

    Thank you

    I have just read a very disturbing newspaper article, written by Daniel Pipes on June 1, 2013 which was cross- posted from National Review Online, The Corner.
    It is in regard to Polio.
    Can you confirm for me the status today of Polio in endemic countries please

    Thank you

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Page last updated: May 11, 2021
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