World Polio Day this year is October 24.
It is a day where Rotary International Clubs around the world celebrate the achievements made in more than 40 years of fighting to eradicate polio and where Rotarians pledge to fundraise more money to help make the world polio free. We only need three straight years of no cases to be world-free of the wild poliovirus. Please help us reach that historic goal.
It is within our reach by 2026 according to Aidan O’Leary, World Health Organization’s polio eradication director. On August 25, 2020 the World Health Organization declared that transmission of the wild poliovirus had been eliminated in all 47 African countries. The last country in Africa to have cases, Nigeria, had tested as wild polio free for three years running thus, allowing Africa to be declared wild polio free. The U.S. was declared polio free in 1979, the Western Hemisphere in 1991, the Americas and Canada in 1994, the western Pacific region – Australia to China in 2000, India and South East Asia in 2014, Nigeria in 2019, Africa 2020. There are only two countries left in the world that remain endemic with a case each of wild polio (January, 2021) – Afghanistan and Pakistan. We only need three straight years of no cases to be world free. Please help us reach that goal.
Polio or poliomyelitis, is a highly infectious, paralyzing and potentially deadly disease that most commonly affects children under the age of five. The virus can spread person to person via water droplets or contaminated water and food, can attack the central nervous system, the brain and spinal cord leading to paralysis. Polio transmission can happen from a wild or naturally occurring virus in the environment or can be caused by vaccine-derived strains.
There is no cure but it can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine developed in 1955 by Dr. Jonas Salk and with an oral vaccine created by Dr. Albert Sabin (licensed in the U.S.) in 1960.
Every newborn child in every country needs to be vaccinated and then given reinforcing, multiple doses up to five years of age. Rotary International first became involved in 1979 with a five-year joint project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. It was so successful that in 1985, Rotary International pledged $120 Million USD to fund Polio Plus and raised $240 million. Rotary was a founding member of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988 with other partners (WHO, CDC, UNICEF, Gates Foundation, Gavi) and we have reduced the incidence of polio cases by 99.9 per cent since the GPEI was launched.
Every donation helps in obtaining vaccines, transportation and materials needed to test for (surveillance) and fight against polio. An End Polio Now/Rotary website stated it takes an average of $3 to fully protect a child (430 million children were vaccinated in 39 countries in 2017) and $100 million cost to conduct polio surveillance world-wide. Rotary’s yearly campaign to raise funds centers around Oct. 24 – United Nations Day.
The Bowen Island Rotary Club invites Bowen Islanders to help young children of the world to avoid this deadly disease. We will be placing polio piggy banks near the tills of several Bowen businesses where you can empty your change pocket/purses and add your contribution. Or if you wish to donate online and get a receipt visit: my.rotary.org/en/donate or at endpolio.org/donate. Please reference Bowen Island Rotary ID 83903.
More than a million Rotarians all over the World have volunteered their time and resources to end polio. We have helped immunize 2.5 billion children in 122 countries. Please help us continue our good work and check bowenrotary.com to learn about our other endeavours.