Rotary International’s #EndPolioNow campaign and the ongoing battle to eradicate a debilitating disease.
How are you observing World Polio Day?
The movement to eradicate polio came into my radar about a year ago. At the time I was in places like Thailand and Bangladesh trying to study the cycle and impact of malaria. The research brought me to all areas of malaria, including unexpected topics such as victim-blaming and drug-resistance and masculinity in refugee camps. But I was too deep to apply what I learned to any other disease, that is, until I saw martial artist Jackie Chan advocating for polio eradication. Up untill that point, I had no idea that polio continued to devastate people, communities and economies. No idea how, in places like Pakistan, some heroes who were simply trying to vaccinate children against polio had been murdered. Then in February 2013 I had the chance to interview polio survivor Ramesh Ferris and from that point on, though I continued to remain passionate about ending malaria, I began to see the human and environmental links between the two. Like malaria, polio damages not only people but entire communities. Like malaria, polio thrives in areas of tension and violence. And as cerebral malaria can do, polio impacts an individual’s life forever.
The world is now 99% polio-free and massive efforts are underway in countries where it is still endemic — Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan — as well as in other countries that remain at risk for the disease. Rotary International’s End Polio Now initiative is making a push so that the momentum from World Polio Day on October 24, 2013, can help those warriors fighting this battle finish the job. See below for the countdown clock and for ways that you can get involved.
Please join me today, World Polio Day, to learn more about where we are in the battle to end polio and to find out how you can help. Tune in today to a Livestream event hosted by Rotary International and the Northwestern University Center for Global Health. It will feature Dr. Bruce Avlward, Assistant Director-General for Polio, Emergencies and Country Collaboration, World Health Organization, Rotary polio ambassador and actress Archie Panjabi, and others