Ezra Teshome: Africa and Polio Plus Update

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This Thursday, August 27th, was a laudable coincidence that compressed Past District Governor Ezra Teshome’s PolioPlus update with the ROTARIAN magazine’s front cover ultimatum to the disease.

Ezra began with a bit of history concerning this scourge–

–It has been associated with poor hygiene, ie., tainted water, sewage, and the like, since 1400 B.C.
–Rotary’s role in its eradication has been in force since 1985.
–The original commitment was for 125 countries, entailing $120 million.
–The Gates Foundation has gotten involved with large stipends.

More progress:

  • Drops, costing 20 cents per dose, have supplanted injections for which refrigeration is essential, and difficult in torrid places, requiring thermos containers…
  • Polio eradication is now down to three remaining countries…
  • Africa is on the verge of being polio-free…
  • The region is highly unstable, but Nigeria has recently been declared free of it…
  • Two more years is the estimate for Africa…The last outbreak was in a Somali refugee camp in Ethiopia…
  • As for Ethiopia, immunizations are given in a stay home or go to the center basis…
  • Somali nomads are difficult to track down, but are successfully followed…
  • Health workers operate at or near mosques with accommodating imams an asset to the vaccinators. Challenges exist in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Rumors have circulated that the workers are either CIA agents or sterilizers of women. Some workers have tragically been shot as a result.
Rotarians see other avenues of health, to wit, water purification, sanitary facilities, and immunization vs. other diseases. There can be no complacency. With continuation of the effort, some two years remain for a polio-free world. The Boko Haram, a legion of aggressors, has even been slowly coming around. The leaders have begun to accept the value of immunizations. The Gates Foundation now matches the effort with $2 for each $1 contributed.
Ezra, to everyone’s accolade and to nobody’s surprise, is set to go to Africa to administer vaccines. Godspeed.
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