Over the coming months, the extensive polio infrastructure Rotary helped build will be used to support preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Building on decades of experience stopping polio outbreaks, Rotary and our partners have a critical role to play in protecting communities from this global pandemic, just as the we did with Ebola, yellow fever, and Avian flu. This truly represents the “Plus” in PolioPlus.
We must take every precaution to ensure that polio eradication activities do not contribute to COVID-19 transmission. In order to observe global guidance related to physical distancing and hygiene, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has advised countries to pause polio immunisation campaigns during the COVID-19 outbreak response.
While responding to COVID-19, Rotary and our GPEI partners will take every step possible to continue protecting children and avoid a resurgence of polio. We will maintain essential polio eradication work — including surveillance, immunisation in certain high-risk areas, and maintaining our vaccine supply — so that polio campaigns can begin without delay as soon as it is safe.
Responding to COVID-19 and polio are dual priorities. The most important thing that Rotary members can do to continue the fight to end polio is to sustain our commitment to polio eradication and reach our fundraising goal of $50 million this year for polio — while also supporting COVID-19 response activities.
Districts are encouraged to consider giving District Designated Funds to PolioPlus. Donations to DDF are matched 1:1 by the World Fund, then 2:1 by the Gates Foundation for a total of a 6:1 match.
In the midst of a pandemic, it is understandable that attention to polio eradication will be diverted, but this makes it all the more vital for Rotarians to remain strongly committed to fighting polio and not let our progress erode.