By Nelson R. Maler
I am sad to report to you that we have two new cases of the Wild Polio Virus in Afghanistan. I have dreaded the possibility of this day arriving, as I know many of you have…Just reported this morning. After more than 10 months of no new wild polio cases in Afghanistan, TWO new cases of Type 1 have occurred, both from the Emamsaheb District of Kunduz Province in the Northeast Region.
Genetic sequencing of both cases demonstrates the two cases are related. While this is disappointing, the incident was not totally unexpected, as the Kunduz province has been inaccessible for house-to-house vaccinations since 2019. One piece of good news in this situation is that the Emamsaheb District, where the cases occurred, was just covered by house-to-house vaccination teams during the nationwide polio vaccination campaign earlier this week (November 8th to 11th), which has already given us an important and robust mechanism to respond to this outbreak.
As you all know, we have hit huge roadblocks before, and while they have been demoralizing, we have reacted with perseverance and tenacity. Like the roadblock, we encountered on the African Continent. After years of exhaustive work in the 47 countries that make up the African region, in August, 2016 we were within weeks of the required 3 years without a single case in order to declare Africa polio free…when 4 cases emerged in Nigeria…talk about demoralizing!!! However, we reacted with a strategic and massive surveillance and vaccination campaign, and as a result there have been no new cases since then, and last year, on August 25th, the World Health Organization officially certified the African Region free of the wild polio virus. As mentioned above, this was not unexpected and is even accounted for in GPEI’s new 2022-2026 Strategic Plan timeline. Thus my dear Polio Warriors, we reset the clock on Afghanistan:
FOURTEEN DAYS – The number of days since the last case of the wild poliovirus Type 1 occurred in Afghanistan.
TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-SEVEN – The number of days since the last case of the wild poliovirus Type 1 occurred in Pakistan.
FOUR – The total number of cases of the wild poliovirus Type 1 that occurred worldwide since January 1st, 3 in Afghanistan and 1 in Pakistan.
ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-THREE – The number of cases of the wild poliovirus Type 1 that occurred in 2020 on this date.
- Rotarians never give up.
- Rotarian always finish what they start.
- We may be down, but we are not done.
We will re-assert our efforts and focus on eliminating the world from Polio. To do so will take all of us Polio Warriors to educate our club and community, remind everyone of our mission and help fund this effort. Your voice and efforts will prove once again that we are Rotarians of Action.