World Polio Day

We’re “this close” to eradicating polio

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“We are this close to ending polio” – Reverend Desmond Tutu supports Rotary’s advertising campaign

This October, some 162 million children are being vaccinated against polio, in countries from Guinea in west Africa to Nepal in south Asia. This month also marks 95 years since the birth of Jonas Salk, developer of the first safe and effective polio vaccine. Polio survivors and eradication advocates across the globe commemorate 24 October as World Polio Day in his honour.

Polio has been reduced worldwide by 99% since 1988, following the global push to eradicate the poliovirus spearheaded by national governments and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, using oral polio vaccine, developed by Albert Sabin. The virus now survives in parts of four countries, where it is the subject of intense eradication activities.

As part of a US$ 355 million challenge grant awarded to Rotary by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary clubs worldwide are aiming to raise a total of US$ 200 million by 2012. The funding will provide critical support to polio eradication activities, including the distribution of a new, more effective bivalent polio vaccine that was recently approved for use in the coming months.

On World Polio Day, Rotarians worldwide are concocting innovative fundraising ideas and activities to remind the world that help is still needed in the fight against polio.

Events include benefit screenings of the Oscar-nominated documentary “The Final Inch” and campaigns to make donations over the mobile phone. Rotarians are hawking a book of jokes, with profits going to End Polio Now. They are congregating in their town centres soliciting donations from passers-by. Many are participating in “We walk so they may walk”-type walking or running events, referring to the lifelong paralysis that polio can cause. In one Rotary Club, walkers are competing in costume to “Scare away polio”.

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