The World's Greatest Meal to Help End Polio

Aidan Linton-Smith, President Shirdi, PDG Rtn. Mukesh Malhotra

Members from the local community joined us at our meeting on 27th October for the World's Greatest Meal, our club's contribution to making the final push towards ending Polio.

We were also joined by Rotarian Mukesh Malhotra, co-founder of the World’s Greatest Meal and Aidan Linton-Smith from the British Polio Fellowship.

Having been unfortunate enough to contract Polio as an infant when just a few months old, Aidan has lived with the condition all his life and has not let it get the way of living a very successful life, both on the work front and in the sporting arena. Aidan had a starring role in the London 2012 Paralympic games, where he was a Games maker in the sport of Boccia. He is also the current British Polio Fellowship reigning champion in the sport.

The World’s Greatest Meal was the brainchild of two Rotarians from either side of the globe – one of them being Mukesh Malhotra of the Rotary Club of Hounslow, the other being Susanne Rea of the Rotary Club of Cairns Sunrise in Australia.

Mukesh said that it was an important time in the fight to eradicate polio, which would be only the second human disease to be eradicated, after smallpox. In September, the World Health Organization declared Africa’s last polio-endemic country, Nigeria, polio-free, leaving only two countries which have never stopped the virus: Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 1988, when Rotary and its partners committed to eradicating the disease, polio paralyzed more than 350,000 children per year in 125 countries - or, more than 1,000 per day. Since that time, the number of polio cases has been reduced by 99.9%, with less than 51 cases in two countries to date in 2015. Mukesh went on to say we are "this close" to ending polio.

The idea of the World’s Greatest Meal was first launched on Facebook just before Christmas 2013 and since then, there have been 1,713 events registered in 70 countries, with more than 94,637 participants worldwide.

Our World’s Greatest Meal raised a total of £250 or USD $385 (a total of £750 or USD $1,155 with matching funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), translates to enough funds to buy more than 1,910 polio vaccinations to protect children against polio for life.

To date, a total of USD $1,442,337.80 has been raised (a total of USD $4,327,013.40 with matching funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). This translates to enough funds to buy more than 7,211,000 polio vaccinations.