To the Editor:
Rotary International, including local clubs in Sycamore and DeKalb, will mark historic progress on World Polio Day, Oct. 24, toward a polio-free world while urging the community to help end the paralyzing disease.
When Rotary and its partners launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1985, there were 350,000 cases of paralytic polio in 125 countries every year. 1000 children/day were paralyzed. Rotarians around the world, working with UNICEF, WHO, CDC, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and nation states have reduced the number of polio cases worldwide by 99.9%!
This program highlights the success of this effort, with worldwide volunteers visiting every village and town on the planet to get this done. In 2020 the entire continent of Africa was declared polio free for the first time after 40 years of work. Several volunteers have be slain in conflict zones trying to accomplish this mission.
Today, only Afghanistan and Pakistan remain endemic and have only a couple reported cases this year.
We are very close to completing this monumental task, but to be declared ‘polio-free’, a country must not have any reportable cases of polio for three years. The current target date for completion of this job is 2026.
Rotary and its membership have committed to raise $50 million each year to support these efforts. Infrastructure for the End Polio campaign is also used for surveillance of other communicable diseases, such as Ebola, malaria, and measles.
Rotary is a non-denominational worldwide network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who unite and take action to create lasting change in communities around the globe. Rotarians have contributed over $2.5 billion dollars to eradicate this disease from the planet.
For more than 115 years, Rotary’s people of action have used their passion, energy, and intelligence to improve lives through service. From promoting literacy and peace to providing clean water and improving health care, Rotary members are always working to better the world. Visit endpolio.org to learn more about rotary and the fight to eradicate polio.