To raise awareness and critically needed funds to fight the crippling disease polio, the Rotary Club of Rossland recently collected Pennies for Polio during Rossland’s Rekindle Christmas. Rotary volunteers collected donations in front of Ferraro’s from noon until 4 p.m. Over four hundred Rosslanders including many children emptied their pockets and donated their spare change in support of Rotary.
The effort raised over $650 for Rotary International, the volunteer fundraising arm of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative — a public-private partnership that also includes the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This donation was tripled thanks to a 2:1 match by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, given through a current fundraising partnership with Rotary.
This comes at an important time in the fight to eradicate polio, which would be only the second human disease to be eradicated. Only three countries (Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan) have never stopped transmission of the wild poliovirus.
Overall, remarkable progress has been achieved in the fight against polio. Since 1988, the number of polio cases has been reduced by 99 per cent from 350,000 a year to about 400 in 2013. In 2014, Southeast Asia was certified polio-free after India eliminated the disease from its borders, an incredible feat for a country once considered the hardest place on earth to stop polio.
However, in 2014, the Director-General of the World Health Organization declared polio to be a public health emergency of international concern. As such, WHO urges polio-impacted countries to ensure travelers leaving their borders are immunized against the disease. This decision puts additional measures in place to ensure we protect our incredible progress against the disease, and also end the remaining 1 per cent of cases.
Rotary, a humanitarian service organization with nearly 34,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas, made polio eradication its top priority in 1985. Rotary has since contributed US $1.3 billion, and its members have logged countless volunteer hours to help immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries.
A highly infectious disease, polio still strikes children mainly under the age of five in parts of Africa and South Asia. Polio can cause paralysis and sometimes death. There is no cure for polio, but for as little as .60 cents worth of oral vaccine, a child can be protected from the disease for life.
For further information, or to donate, visit www.endpolionow.org. To learn more about the Rotary Club of Rossland or sign up to receive periodic emails, visit www.rosslandrotary.org.