PRIP Ravindran received the award from the President of Sri Lanka
Outbreaks of vaccine-derived polio have been reported this month in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria, according to the World Health Organization.
At least 17 cases were identified in Syria and at least four in Congo. In both countries, health officials are working with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to respond immediately to the outbreaks with supplementary immunization activities and field investigations.
To prevent the virus from spreading further, investigations and immunizations are also being strengthened in neighboring countries, the World Health Organization said.
Despite the new cases, the push to eradicate polio is stronger than ever, with fewer cases reported so far this year than ever before. It also got a boost last week at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, where donors pledged $1.2 billion for the effort.
Vaccine-derived cases are rare, and they differ from wild cases. Here’s what you need to know to understand these outbreaks.
Q: What are the two kinds of polio cases?
A: Wild cases of polio are caused by poliovirus that is circulating naturally in the environment.
Vaccine-derived polioviruses are extremely rare and exist under specific circumstances. Oral polio vaccine contains live virus that is weakened so that it will prompt the body’s immune response without causing paralysis. The vaccine is ingested, and the weakened virus replicates in the child’s gut and is then excreted. In areas with poor sanitation, this excreted vaccine virus can spread to other children. This can actually be good because it then immunizes them. When the strain no longer finds susceptible children, it dies out.
The problem occurs in areas of low vaccination coverage. There, such vaccine-derived strains of the virus can continue to circulate as long as they continue to find unvaccinated or otherwise susceptible children. While they continue to circulate, they mutate. Eventually, if they are allowed to circulate long enough — at least 12 months — they can mutate into strains that are strong enough to cause paralysis.
Q: Is the vaccine safe?
A: Yes. The oral polio vaccine has reduced the number of polio cases by 99.9 percent since 1988. The risk posed by wild poliovirus is far greater than the risk of an outbreak caused by circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus. Once wild polioviruses have been eradicated, use of oral vaccine will be stopped.
Q: Are vaccine-derived cases common?
Health workers work diligently to monitor children and test sewage samples for the polio virus.
A: Polio cases caused by circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus are extremely rare. Wild poliovirus remains the far greater risk. Nevertheless, because of the small risk of vaccine-derived outbreaks, use of oral vaccine will be stopped when wild polioviruses have been eradicated.
Q: Are wild cases common?
A: Wild poliovirus occurs only in the countries where polio remains endemic: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Only six cases of polio caused by the wild virus have been reported so far in 2017. That’s the lowest number of polio cases in history, with fewer cases reported in fewer areas of fewer countries than ever before.
Q: How are polio cases detected?
A: Polio surveillance has two parts: Doctors and health workers monitor children for the virus, and authorities test sewage samples from sewer systems or elsewhere, in areas that don’t have adequate sanitation facilities.
The detection of these most recent cases demonstrates that polio surveillance systems are functioning in both countries.
Q: What is the science behind the vaccines?
A: There are two types of vaccine: oral and inactivated-virus. The original oral vaccine protected against types 1, 2, and 3 of the virus.
Type 2 wild poliovirus was eradicated in 1999 so the current vaccine contains only type 1 and type 3. This allows it to provide quicker and better protection against the two remaining types. The inactivated-virus vaccine, administered by injection, contains virus that is dead. Because the virus is dead, the vaccine cannot cause polio outbreaks.
The film follows the journey of a child whose world has been torn apart by conflict and supports the causes Rotary champions — including polio eradication and peacebuilding. The story evoked strong emotions and sensations from the crowd.
Angus Frazer, of Quirindi, Australia, was among the thousands who registered for the event, which was a part of Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
“The film was great. A bit shocking; I didn’t really know what to expect from it but it was really cool,” he said. “I think the film’s message will open up the world a bit, to make people realize there are terrible things happening and there are people trying to help - Rotary being one of the main groups doing that.”
For some, it was their first experience with VR.
“One of the scenes is on a balcony, so you can look down and see the alley,” says Brenda Fernandez-Lango, of Covina Sunrise, California, USA. “I’m scared of heights and my body reacted because I was up on the balcony.”
Virtual reality allows people “see the magic of Rotary firsthand,” said RI President John Germ.
Attendees are eager to share the film when they return home.
“This will definitely have a positive effect on people,” says Angela Ofili, of Lagos, Nigeria. “Rotary has evolved, and that goes a long way toward having an impact in other people’s lives.”
“One Small Act” isn’t Rotary’s first VR film. “I Dream of an Empty Ward,” which premiered on World Polio Day last year, takes viewers to India to follow Alokita, a young woman paralyzed by polio as a child.
Speaking at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Gates reminded the audience of more than 22,000 attendees, who were given LED bracelets to wear, that the effort must continue and be strengthened before polio cases can be reduced to zero.
Calling the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) the “single most ambitious public health effort the world has ever undertaken,” Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reviewed the historic milestones of the fight.
At each achievement, including regions of the world being declared polio-free, sections of the arena were lit up by the LED bracelets, making the attendees a part of the presentation.
Gates thanked Rotary for being the catalyst and visionary partner for ending the paralyzing disease worldwide. “Rotary laid the foundation with its unwavering sense of purpose and its belief that anything is possible if you put your mind and body to it,” he said.
Since the GPEI effort began, polio cases have dropped a staggering 99.9 percent, from nearly 350,000 cases a year to only five cases reported this year, a record low. The virus has been eliminated in all but three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
Gates noted that more than 16 million people who would otherwise have been paralyzed by polio are walking today. “The scale of this effort is phenomenal,” he added.
"Polio is the thing I spend the most time on. Every day I look at my email to see if we have a new case," Gates said. "I'm very inspired to be a part of this. I'm also very humbled."
John Cena, WWE Superstar, actor, and Rotary polio ambassador, emceed the pledging moment at the general session and applauded Rotary for its determination. "You were the trailblazers who wanted to prove to the world that this insurmountable task could be done," Cena said.
Earlier in the day, leaders from countries all over the world joined Gates and Rotary in pledging new money toward filling the $1.5 billion gap in the funding that the GPEI estimates is needed to achieve eradication. Rotary announced that it is increasing its annual fundraising goal to $50 million. Since the Gates Foundation and Rotary began working together in 2007, the two organizations have raised nearly $1.5 billion for polio eradication efforts.
Gates, who said his top priority for the last decade has been ending polio, acknowledged that challenges still lie ahead, especially in areas of conflict where polio remains endemic. “One of the toughest things to do is reach all the children who need the polio vaccine,” he said. “This is especially hard in conflict areas, because it is so difficult to build trust with all sides.”
But Gates also noted that Afghanistan, which still has areas of conflict, is nearly free of the virus. “That’s because the people running the [polio] program have helped build understanding that the only way to get rid of polio is to rise above political, religious, and social divisions.”
With fewer cases now than ever before, the surveillance and detection of the virus becomes more difficult. “To stop the virus completely, we have to know where it’s hiding,” said Gates.
A network of 146 labs worldwide tests about 200,000 stool samples for the poliovirus every year; 99.9 percent of them are negative. But that tiny percentage of positive results will help health officials focus immunization activities to prevent the virus from spreading. In addition, in countries where polio remains endemic, 125 environmental detection sites test sewage, because the poliovirus can survive in sewage for a short time.
Innovations inspired by polio eradication efforts can now have wide-ranging benefits for other global health campaigns, Gates said. Techniques like community mapping, disease surveillance, and expanding the role of health workers will help health authorities detect and contain other infectious diseases, like Ebola.
“That is what is so exciting about Rotary’s 30-year fight,” Gates told the crowd. “You are not only eradicating one of the worst diseases in history. You are also helping the poorest countries provide citizens with better health and a better future.”
Actor and philanthropist Ashton Kutcher took the stage today at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, to address a major human rights issue: human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
Kutcher, who rose to fame in the early 2000s with a series of hit film and television roles, is co-founder of Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, an organization that combats human trafficking and the conditions that enable it. Trafficking in humans takes many forms but includes forced labor and sex slavery. It is among the world’s largest illicit trades, with many of the transactions happening online.
“As a young man coming up in the public school system in the United States, I thought slavery was done, a thing of the past," Kutcher said. "When I realized this was happening – happening even right here in Atlanta, a hotbed for trafficking as a travel hub – I was floored, and set out to learn as much as I could about it.”
Thorn specifically works to address sexual exploitation and the proliferation of child pornography online. By exploring and supporting new digital strategies for identifying victims, deterring predators, and disrupting platforms, Thorn helps lead the global conversation on trafficking – a conversation that’s continuing at Rotary’s annual convention.
More than 40,000 people, including Rotary members, partners, and friends from 175 countries and territories, have gathered in Atlanta this week to exchange ideas on how they can work together to improve lives in their communities.
Kutcher joined other prominent voices for a panel discussion on trafficking and how communities can combat it. Gary Haugen spoke about his work as CEO of International Justice Mission, a nonprofit that aims to strengthen local law enforcement and support survivors of trafficking.
Also at the panel, U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee discussed the legislative framework that allows traffickers to thrive in plain sight, and survivor Rebecca Bender offered moving testimony about the abuse she endured in the United States.
Recognizing the role that vast global networks like Rotary play in sustainable social change, Kutcher encouraged attendees to join the fight.
“There’s an inbound pipeline to trafficking," Kutcher said, "and that is vulnerability and poverty,” two issues that Rotary addresses through humanitarian projects and partnerships. Kutcher cited the example of the foster care system in the U.S. “Kids going into this system don’t have someone in their lives that loves them, which makes them vulnerable to someone who reaches out and shows them that attention. That’s how traffickers get in.”
Haugen pointed out that Rotary is already connecting with vulnerable groups, building relationships, and improving lives.
“What’s clear is this issue is everywhere around the world,” Haugen said. “There are survivors like Rebecca back home in your neighborhood and your country. Educate, serve survivors, and encourage local law enforcement, and Rotary can change this in our lifetimes.”
Everyone you meet here this week, no matter how different they look, no matter where they’re from and what language they speak—everyone here is a part of your Rotary family. So don’t be shy. You might just find yourself a new friend, or your club a new partner. It all starts with a smile, and a hello—from one Rotarian, to another.John F. Germ
Rotary’s biggest get-together of the year is underway. More than 40,000 members from 174 countries have gathered in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, to renew friendships, find inspiration, and celebrate The Rotary Foundation’s 100 years of Doing Good in the World.
The 2017 Rotary Convention’s opening ceremony took place Sunday at the Georgia World Congress Center, and included the presentation of the centennial bell. This special bell was forged at a 1,000-year-old foundry in Agnone, Italy, in honor of the Foundation’s centennial. The presentation marked the start of a five-day centennial celebration, which includes a book signing, a photo exhibit, and an enormous birthday party.
During the opening session, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal welcomed Rotary to Atlanta, and RI President John F. Germ emphasized opportunities for making connections during the convention.
“I hope that, as busy as all of you are going to be, you still make time for what might just be the most important part of every convention: meeting new people, and getting to know your fellow Rotarians,” Germ said.
Indian philanthropist Rajashree Birla, chair of the Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development named for her late husband, pledged another $1 million for Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio. Birla has already contributed more than $7.2 million to the effort.
Over the next four days, attendees will also hear from Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, about progress on our pledge to rid the world of polio. Ashton Kutcher, cofounder of Thorn, will be part of a panel discussion on human trafficking and the need to end modern slavery.
Other speakers include WWE Superstar, actor, and Rotary polio ambassador John Cena and golf icon Jack Nicklaus.
Fellowship is the biggest part of any Rotary Convention, and the week wouldn’t be complete without Host Organization Committee events welcoming attendees to Atlanta, showing off the city, and giving members a chance to get together and socialize. Check the committee's site for the latest information.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that when two Rotarians get together, and start talking about service--there’s just no telling where that might lead,” said Germ.
Follow all our convention coverage as the action happens. Find photos, videos, live blog posts, speeches, and more. And share your convention experience on social media with #Rotary17.
Candlelight Vigil to End Slavery and Human Trafficking: Rotary members joined Atlanta residents at a candlelight vigil Saturday night to bring attention to human trafficking. The program featured Dorsey Jones, who told how she survived trafficking in metropolitan Atlanta. Participants observed a moment of silence for victims.
Walk/Run to End Polio Now: Rotary members took part in a 3K walk/run around Centennial Olympic Park Saturday morning to raise funds and awareness for Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio from the world.
House of Friendship: The House of Friendship opened with a grand parade on Saturday morning. The bustling hall is where the Rotary world comes together to share ideas, best practices, and project successes.
Bill Gates, keynote speaker: Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will speak about our joint effort to eradicate polio.
Panel Presentation on the End of Modern Slavery: Ashton Kutcher, cofounder of Thorn, actor, entrepreneur, tech investor, producer, and philanthropist, will lead a panel discussion with Gary Haugen, CEO of International Justice Mission, and Bob Corker, U.S. Senator.
"One Small Act: A Virtual Reality Experience": Thousands will gather to watch Rotary’s new virtual reality film and participate in one of the largest ever simultaneous VR viewings. Rotarians will use Google’s virtual reality viewer, Cardboard, to join the extraordinary journey of a child whose world has been torn apart by conflict.
Jack Nicklaus, keynote speaker: Jack Nicklaus, golf icon, philanthropist, and Rotary ambassador for polio eradication, will speak about his experience as a polio survivor.
The Rotary Foundation's 100th Birthday Party: What’s a party without cake and ice cream? Guests will enjoy both as they celebrate the Foundation’s 100th birthday.
- Arnold R. Grahl, Rotary International
Posted by B S Maddodi on June 12, 2017 at 11:07pm
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