ROTARY ROUND-UP: Huge reduction in number of polio cases

Rotary launched PolioPlus in 1985
Rotary launched PolioPlus in 1985
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This week, Kim Woodley, from the Rotary Club of Worthing, gives an update on the latest and future goings-on.

One of the most life-changing actions that Rotary International has achieved is the huge reduction in the number of cases of polio.

Poliomyelitis (polio) is a paralysing and potentially fatal disease that still threatens children in some parts of the world.

The poliovirus invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours.

It can strike at any age but mainly affects children under five.

Polio is incurable, but completely vaccine-preventable.

In 1985, Rotary launched its PolioPlus program, the first initiative to tackle global polio eradication through the mass vaccination of children.

Rotary has contributed more than $1.5billion and countless volunteer hours to immunise more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries.

In addition, Rotary’s advocacy efforts have played a role in decisions by donor governments to contribute more than $9billion to the effort.

Today, there are only two countries that have never stopped transmission of the wild poliovirus: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Less than 370 polio cases were confirmed worldwide in 2014, which is a reduction of more than 99.9 per cent since the 1980s, when the world saw about 1,000 cases per day.

However challenges still remain – the polio cases represented by the remaining 0.1 per cent are the most difficult to prevent, due to factors including geographical isolation, poor public infrastructure, armed conflict and cultural barriers.

Until polio is eradicated, all countries remain at risk of outbreaks.

To ensure success every pound that Rotary commits to polio eradication will be matched two-to-one by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, up to $35million a year until 2018.

These funds help to provide much-needed operational support, medical personnel, laboratory equipment, and educational materials for health workers and parents.

To join Rotarians in making a difference to the lives of others, both locally and internationally, have a look at our website: www.worthing-rotary.org, call us or come along to one of our Monday lunchtime meetings.

We would love to welcome you.

Details of Worthing’s three Rotary clubs are:

• Worthing Rotary Club meets Monday, 12.55pm, at the Chatsworth Hotel, in The Steyne, Worthing, 01903 262222.

• West Worthing Rotary Club meets Tuesday evening at Tudor Close, Ferring, 01903 501961.

• Worthing Steyne Rotary Club meets Monday evening at The Ardington Hotel, in Steyne Gardens, Worthing, 01903 234957.

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