President’s Comment – 25 Jun 17

Hi All,

This week our visit to the town of Ceski Krumlov in the Czech Republic was the highlight. It  is a town and castle began around 1240 that remains intact and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This is an interesting article.

Understanding the recent polio outbreaks

By Ryan Hyland and Teresa Schmedding

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.

Photo by Miriam Doan

 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. 

President’s Comment – 18 Jun 17

Hi All,
This week we have been to the Cinque Terre near La Spezia and Menaggio, Lake Como, Italy. Weather has been warm – up to 32 celsius and fine. Still having a great time.

Above – Riomaggiore one of the 5 towns of the Cinque Terre. Fascinating communities.

Above and below – Menaggio, Lake Como – view of town. Such a beautiful area.

ROTARY CONVENTION 2018

I see where 9000 people have already booked for the Rotary Convention in Toronto 2018. Are you one of them?

Unveiling People of Action

By Rotary staff

We are excited to reveal a new public image campaign, People of Action, at this year’s Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. As Rotarians from all over the world came to Atlanta, they are experiencing and learning about this global campaign for the first time at the convention, held at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center, 10-14 June 2017.

Convention attendees are greeted by new People of Action advertisements on billboards at the airport and around the city of Atlanta. At the venue, the ads are prominently displayed in the convention halls—on the windows and banners throughout the conference center.

There’s also a full agenda to help introduce and inform Rotarians about the new campaign. During the plenary session this morning, John Smarge, Chair of the Communications Committee, showed the campaign video and talked about this campaign as an important next step in promoting awareness and understanding of Rotary, as well as the impact Rotarians make around the world.

  • Rotary’s social media team will publish the People of Action campaign on their Rotary channels in all Rotary languages.
  • There will also be two breakout sessions that will include information about the campaign. A session will run on Wednesday afternoon in Rooms B304-305: Becoming an Effective Rotary Communicator and Promoting Rotary in Your community

Whether you are attending this year’s convention or staying home, it’s a good time to start planning for how your club will use the People of Action campaign ad to promote Rotary in your community.

President’s Comment – 11 Jun 17

Hi All,

We are at presently staying on an organic farm near Figline e Incisa Valdarno, in the Florence Region, Italy enjoying the wine and the spectacular scenery. We visited this wonderful village of San Gimignano yesterday in the Chianti area.

Rotary’s biggest event of the year starts now

By Rotary Staff

The 108th annual Rotary International Convention officially opens Sunday, 11 June, but Rotary members from across the globe have already begun pouring into Atlanta, Georgia, USA, to attend preconvention events, catch up with friends, and enjoy America’s Southern hospitality.

More than 40,000 members from 174 countries are expected to attend this year’s event, which runs 10-14 June. During those five days, attendees will hear from world-class speakers, watch Rotary’s new virtual reality film, and party like it’s 1917.

Ashton Kutcher, Bill Gates, John Cena, and Jack Nicklaus are just some of the exciting speakers at this year’s convention. During general sessions, attendees will learn how technology is helping to fight child sexual exploitation, about our progress to eradicate polio, and how Rotary’s new public image campaign strengthens our global grand.

During “One Small Act: A Virtual Reality Experience,” participants will be among the first to see Rotary’s latest virtual reality film and participate in one of the largest simultaneous virtual reality viewings. Plan now to attend and see for yourself the impact that small acts of compassion can have. Tickets are still available.

The culmination of a yearlong celebration of The Rotary Foundation’s centennial takes place at the Atlanta convention. One of the main events is the Foundation’s birthday party, complete with cake and ice cream. Book signings and a centennial photo exhibit that showcases the Foundation’s global leadership in humanitarian service are also on the program.

Follow all of the convention happenings at riconvention.org. And share your convention experience on social media with #Rotary17.