Uganda braces for World Polio Day as Rotary organizes week long activities
Uganda will, on Sunday 24th October 2021, join the rest of the world to commemorate the world polio day under the theme, “One Day. One Focus: Ending Polio".
The Ministry of Health has partnered with Rotary to organize various events around the country, at which immunization against polio and other immmunisable diseases, and vaccination against Covid-19 will be done.
Poliomyelitis, commonly known as polio, is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects children under the age of five. The disease invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis in a matter of hours. There is no cure for polio, and it can only be prevented by immunization.
Rotary in Uganda will work with partners to immunize more children this year. The main celebrations will take place at the Rotary Hospital in Mukono, at which the Minister of State for Primary Health Care, Hon. Margaret Muhanga, will be guest of honor.
Additionally, a similar activity will take place at St. Stephen's Hospital in Mpererwe under a partnership between USAID and Rotary.
Addressing the media on Tuesday at the Ministry of Health headquarters in Kampala, the District Governor of District 9213, John Magezi: Ndamira commended the Ministry of Health and other partners for supporting Rotary in the fight against polio.
He said that Rotary International has contributed more than US$2.1 billion towards ending polio since 1985. Every year, about US$50 million is raised to support global polio eradication efforts.
"With polio nearly eradicated off the face of the earth, Rotary and its partners must sustain this progress and strive to reach every child with the polio vaccine," Magezi said.
He added that without full funding and political commitment, this paralyzing disease could return to polio-free countries, putting children everywhere at risk. We call upon all parents in Uganda to have their children under five immunized on Sunday, even if it is the second time round. “The battle will not be won until the disease is completely eradicated".
Rotary's nearly 32,000 members in Africa have played a critical role in helping the region achieve its wild polio-free status by holding events to raise funds and awareness for polio, and working with world governments and national and local leaders to secure funding and support for polio eradication.
Magezi told the press this morning that this success was followed by a significant milestone, when in 2019, Africa was certified by the World Health Organisation as being wild poliovirus-free.
This was in part a result of the cumulative actions of Rotary and its members, who have contributed nearly US$890 million—and countless volunteer hours—to eliminate polio in the African region. This declaration meant that five of the six WHO regions are now wild polio free, representing 90% of the world's population.
Two of the three types of wild poliovirus have been eradicated; while Type 2 wild poliovirus was declared eradicated in September 2015, Type 3 was officially declared eradicated on World Polio Day 2019.
Every year, hundreds of Rotarians work with health workers to vaccinate children in countries affected by polio. They work with UNICEF and other partners to prepare and distribute information materials to people in areas that are isolated by conflict, geography or poverty; and also mobilize to recruit fellow volunteers, assist in transporting the vaccine, and provide other logistical support.
"One last remaining task is to hold the line where the virus has been eradicated and remove the last few strongholds where it continues to spread. Our adversary has been reduced to just one type of the virus and just 0.1% of cases in two countries and one region of the world", the Minister of State for Health, Hon. Margaret Muhanga said.