A mere 1 percent of the world is still suffering the wrath of polio. Four primary areas continue to be targeted by the global partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the Center for Disease Control, and Rotary International. The target areas are Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Nigeria, though after being certified polio free by the WHO in 2002, there is a resurgence of wild poliovirus in Tajikistan this year.
The facts are clear on the need to eradicate polio once and for all. Carol Pandak, Rotary International’s manager of the PolioPlus program says, “It highlights the fact that polio ‘control’ is not an option, and only successful eradication will stop polio in resource-poor countries. Polio importations such as the Tajikistan cases highlight our global vulnerability to infectious disease.”
Did you know that more than 10 million children will be paralyzed in the next 40 years if the world fails to eradicate polio? Polio eradication is within our grasp. But if we don’t eradicate the disease now, the risk of crippling and deadly polio outbreaks will continue to threaten the world’s children.
PolioPlus, the most ambitious program in Rotary’s history, is the volunteer arm of the global partnership dedicated to eradicating polio. For more than 20 years, Rotary has led the private sector in the global effort to rid the world of this crippling disease. Today, PolioPlus and its role in the initiative are recognized worldwide as a model of public-private cooperation in pursuit of a humanitarian goal. Rotary’s leadership, beginning in 1985, inspired the World Health Assembly to pass a resolution to eradicate polio, which paved the way for the formation of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988.
After 20 years of hard work, Rotary and its partners are on the brink of eradicating this tenacious disease, but a strong push is needed now to root it out once and for all. It is a window of opportunity of historic proportions.
To get a good feel for the impact of polio and to further understand the efforts to eradicate it, go to the internet and view two videos: “The Last Inch” and “The Last Hurdle.” Both will move you to tears.
Your contribution will help Rotary raise $200 million to match $355 million in challenge grants received from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The resulting $555 million will directly support immunization campaigns in developing countries, where polio continues to infect and paralyze children, robbing them of their futures and compounding the hardships faced by their families.
As long as polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, children everywhere remain at risk. The stakes are that high.
If you or someone you know is interested in meeting the challenge, please contact Leland Sanders, President – Rotary Club of Effingham County, at (912) 856-2386.