We have received the following communication from International PolioPlus Committee Chair Bob Scott:
On behalf of International PolioPlus Committee Chair Bob Scott, I am pleased to share the information following:
The World Health Organization has announced the outcomes of the Emergency Committee meeting on polio, which was convened in Geneva last week.  The committee concluded that the recent international spread of polio constitutes a “public health emergency of international concern” and issued recommendations to prevent further international spread of the virus.
Details on the decision and resulting recommendations are described in this statement issued by WHO.
As you probably are aware by now, the WHO statement is receiving considerable coverage in the international press. And, as is often the case, the tone of this coverage is at times overly negative, even alarmist.
What some in the media are missing is the fact that the new WHO recommendations are a positive development intended to protect and safeguard the tremendous progress achieved since the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. This set of recommendations should be considered as another new tool in our, the partners’, polio eradication toolkit and another example of how the partnership responds effectively and appropriately to emerging challenges. The recent outbreaks indeed do present a serious challenge, but one that requires a carefully developed countermeasure, which the new recommendations represent.
We also welcome the WHO statement because it draws much-needed attention to the polio eradication effort and the importance of stopping the transmission of the wild poliovirus everywhere, especially in the endemic countries, which will eliminate future “imported” outbreaks and carry us to our goal of a polio-free world.
With that as the context, below please find Rotary’s response to the WHO statement.
Rotary supports the WHO Director-General’s recommendations that describe polio as a public health emergency of international concern, including the request that countries that are actively exporting the wild poliovirus (and all polio-endemic countries) ensure that all of their residents and long-term travelers are immunized against the disease before travel.
This is a positive step needed to safeguard the remarkable progress the world has made toward ending polio forever, because we know that outbreaks will continue to occur until we can stop polio at the source: the remaining endemic countries.
With our partners, as well as health ministries, governments, and others, Rotary remains committed to a polio-free world.
Robert S. Scott
Chair, International PolioPlus Committee
Rotary International