End Polio Now

End Polio Now

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For the past twenty-five years, Rotary International has been at the forefront of the fight to eradicate Polio from the world. As Cheam and Sutton Rotary, we have been involved in this effort from the start and are proud that in the past three years we have played our part in helping Rotary International raise in excess of US$200 million to match US$335 million in challenge grants provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Rotary has been involved in the polio challenge to help the “crippled children” as they were known, before the polio virus was discovered and the vaccine to kill it was developed. Once the vaccines were made available, and Rotary had run a successful pilot experiment, in 1985 they made an audacious promise – to rid the world of polio. As a result of world-wide support, in 1988 an organisation called the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was set up.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is led by five partners, supported by national governments. The five partners are Rotary International (RI), the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and in the last 10 year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  (http://polioeradication.org/)

Through the activities of Rotary and the GPEI, the vaccines have been used to reduce the incidence of polio. Since 1988, polio cases have been decreased by 99.9%, reduced from 40 new cases a day globally, to fewer than 40 a year now. At present only 3 countries remain endemic: Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. India which was one of the endemic countries previously has been free of polio for over 6 years and has been taken off the list a few years ago.

As Cheam and Sutton Rotary we always organize activities to celebrate the World Polio Day which is celebrated on 24th October each year. Our activities include film shows, supermarket collections, talks about polio and planting crocus corms all to raise awareness to our endeavours to eradicate polio. You may have seen the bed of purple crocuses in Cheam Village, which we planted a few years ago to bring awareness to Rotary’s fight against polio. The purple of the crocus symbolizes the purple mark put on the pinkies of the children to show that they have been immunized. You can follow our activities on our Facebook page: Cheam & Sutton Rotary.

Polio affects mainly children under the age of 5 and is spread person to person, typically through contaminated water. It can attack the nervous system, and lead to paralysis or even death. There is no cure but there are safe and effective vaccines to protect against it; Rotary and its partners have immunized over 2.5 billion children worldwide. There are 16 million people walking now who otherwise would not be.

The fight against polio needs to continue until the disease is completely eradicated. Until polio ends for good all children all over the world are at risk therefore, with 35,000 Clubs and 1.2 million members, and their “End Polio Now” campaign, Rotarians worldwide and Cheam and Sutton Rotary continue this fight to end polio for good.