OCTOBER 24, 2014 DESIGNATED AS WORLD POLIO DAY
The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International has been working to eradicate polio from the face of the earth since 1979. At that time, the world had seen 350,000 new cases of polio – a crippling disease caused by a virus that affects primarily children under the age of five – every year. Today, thanks to Rotary’s efforts, we have seen fewer than 250 cases since January 1st of this year, and we are on track towards expected eradication before this decade is out.
Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (Unicef, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) have designated this Friday, October 24, 2014, as World Polio Day. The purpose of the day is to bring attention to the efforts of the GPEI partners, to show the success we’ve had to date, and to stress that unless we complete the job of total eradication, the disease will rebound and cause untold sickness and suffering amongst the children of the world. As Rotary’s expression goes, “We Are This Close” and at 99.9% of the job done, Rotarians are proud of their accomplishment. But they are not finished yet.
By participating in World Polio Day, Rotarians around the world – as well as locally – are seeking to bring awareness to the community that this disease still exists in the world. While we’ve had total and successful inoculation programs available to all American children since the 1960’s, the disease is still at large in the three endemic countries that still actively spawn new cases of polio – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. The work is almost completely done in Afghanistan and Nigeria at this point, but Pakistan remains a hotbed of polio activity. Due to political reasons and unsubstantiated fears pertaining to the vaccine, Pakistan has been particularly difficult in getting to the end of the eradication process.
By watching a live-streaming broadcast this Friday, October 24, 2014 at 7:00 pm EST at http://www.endpolio.org/worldpolioday everyone can learn more about the efforts of countless thousands of volunteers who have been working for the past 35 years to put an end to this disease. After the event, the stream will continued to be replayed on demand at the same website. Please watch. Please learn. Please help. No child anywhere in the world should have to suffer from this completely preventable disease. It only costs 60 cents to protect a child against polio for life. Together, let’s make it happen.
Rotary has local clubs in many western Suffolk communities, including Commack-Kings Park, Smithtown, Hauppauge, East Northport, Northport, Huntington, Huntington Station, Islip, Islandia-Central Islip, Melville, Babylon, Bay Shore, Lindenhurst, Amityville, and more. All of these clubs would welcome new volunteers. They may all be found at www.Rotary.org, by clicking the Club Finder link at the top of the home page. The members of these clubs are your neighbors, and they are all committed to eradicating polio from the world.