Club President
Bill Bastine
Bill Bastine
Rotary International
District 5030

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End Polio Now

   
End Polio Now

This Close!

For centuries, Poliomyelitis has been one of the most dreaded diseases on earth.  It has crippled and killed millions of people.  Hundreds of thousands of individuals who were stricken with the disease spent the rest of their lives in iron lungs.  Parents lived in fear that their children would either be crippled for life or might even die.  Then, in 1952, Dr. Jonas Salk created the first Polio Vaccine and in 1954 more than 1.8 million children participated in the field trials of the new vaccine.  Following the successful trials, more than 10 million children in five countries were immunized by the end of 1955.

 

In the late 1950's Dr. Albert Sabin worked on the development of an oral polio vaccine and in 1961 the vaccine was approved for use.   Because it was so easy to administer and gave longer-lasting immunity, the oral vaccine became the weapon of choice in the global campaign to eradicate polio.  In 1985, Rotary International set its primary goal to eradicate polio worldwide using the Sabin vaccine.  By 2008, more than 2 Billion children in 122 countries had been immunized against polio and today, there are only four countries which are still polio endemic.

 

It is these four endemic countries (India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan) that represent the "last inch" in achieving the goal.  The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a partnership with the single objective to achieve Rotary's goal.  The GPEI consists of five major partners who are working closely together to insure that polio will be fully eradicated worldwide. 

When Rotary took on Polio eradication in 1985, the goal was considered to be audacious and unreachable. Here is what Bill Gates, Sr. had to say about it in his book "Showing Up For Life".

"More than 20 years ago, when most volunteer efforts were aimed at solving problems that existed down the street, Rotary took on a global fight nobody believed they could win.  A fight to end polio worldwide.

 

Since then, Rotary has revolutionized our thinking about the possibilities that exist for ordinary people to significantly change the world. 


What they have accomplished since then defies description.  Worldwide, cases of polio have declined by 99%.  Rotary members have done everything from spending their vacations immunizing children in faraway places, to lobbying heads of state, to negotiating cease-fires in civil wars long enough to get millions of children vaccinated.

 

They've shown us how to mobilize people, raise more money than anybody thought volunteers could, and create private-public partnerships that can take on large-scale global problems.

 

I believe - as do most experts - that Rotary will achieve its audacious goal of eradication global polio.  Along the way they have taught us that when we are inspired to work together in the interest of an engaging cause, there is no problem bigger than we are."

 

 

              


 



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