Rotary, COVID-19 and Polio
This article from Liz explains about how the staff who go out to vaccinate against Polio are helping fight COVID. It makes for interesting reading and the important role many Rotarians are taking on overseas.
Over the next several months the polio infrastructure Rotary helped build – including its tools, workforce, and extensive surveillance networks – will be used to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by supporting preparedness and response activities in many countries, including Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This truly represents the ‘Plus” in PolioPlus.
Building on decades of experience stopping polio outbreaks, Rotary and our partners have a critical role to play in protecting communities from this unprecedented pandemic, just as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) did in the past to respond to outbreaks of Ebola, yellow fever, and Avian flu.
In places like Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan polio staff are tracing contacts and testing for COVID-19, combatting misinformation and sensitizing health professionals on the disease. The GPEI’s coordination mechanisms – such as hotlines and emergency operations centres – and physical assets like vehicles and computers have also been deployed against COVID-19.
Pakistan: Polio staff are aiding efforts to strengthen surveillance and raise awareness about COVID-19 across Pakistan. The team has trained hundreds of surveillance officers while also supporting the development of a new data system that’s fully integrated with the system used for polio.  Across the country, polio eradication logistics experts are facilitating the distribution of personal protective equipment for the COVID-19 response.
Rotarians are providing face masks, personal protection kits to medical staff, repairing ventilators, assisting governments in setting up and monitoring quarantines sites, and utilizing vaccine carriers to transport COVID-19 specimens to laboratories.
Rotary’s Polio Resource Centres are helping the fight against COVID-19 by sensitizing religious leaders and community influencers, producing posters with information on hygiene and physical distancing, and providing food rations to families in need.
Nigeria: In Ogun and Lagos states, over 50 polio program medical staff are conducting contact tracing, disease detection and data collection and analysis to stem the spread of COVID-19. World Health Organization field offices used for polio eradication coordination across the country are now supporting COVID-19 teams, and the GPEI is lending phones, vehicles and administrative support to the response.
Afghanistan: Over 3,750 community volunteers who typically support polio surveillance in Afghanistan are now promoting hand washing and positive hygiene practices in communities to reduce transmission and exposure to COVID-19.