In 1984 Rotary International challenged all clubs in every country to raise money to eradicate polio world wide. The Rotary Club of Tywyn had just been formed but it stood alongside the rest of the Rotary world and contributed to the cause.
The question is no longer, How many children are there and where might we go to find them all? It is now, How do we most efficiently vaccinate every child on this map?
Rotarians pledge to put service above self, their motto, but they have no specific global health mandate. They are not polio experts. They are regular people who go to work and spend time with their families. For three decades, they have also spent time advocating for polio eradication, raising money to support vaccination, and giving kids polio drops all over the world.
Other partners include the Centres for Disease Control, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization. We rely on them to excel at their jobs.
A Year Without Polio in Africa
Today, we mark a tremendous milestone: one full year without a single case of polio caused by wild poliovirus in Africa.
A polio-free Africa has been within sight for over a decade. Health workers, community leaders, government officials and global partners helped reach 230 million African children with the polio vaccine, often under some of the most difficult conditions imaginable. Together, we have done what once seemed impossible: we have stopped polio in Africa.
Africa’s last polio case occurred in Somalia on 11 August last year. Nigeria, one of the last three polio-endemic countries, reached one year without a reported case on 24 July. The World Health Organization (WHO) may soon remove Nigeria from the list of polio-endemic countries. When Africa goes three years without a case of polio, WHO will certify the region as polio-free.
Yet this progress, momentous as it is, is still fragile. As long as polio exists in the two remaining endemic countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the virus still has the potential to spread and to spark new outbreaks. Now, more than ever, we need the support of donors, governments and partners to carry us through to the end: not just a polio-free Africa, but a polio-free world.
Wherever you live, whether your country has just conquered polio or has been polio-free for decades, we need your voice and your help. Support the fight to end polio by visiting endpolio.org to learn more and make a contribution. Every US dollar you donate to Rotary’s polio eradication effort will become three dollars, thanks to a 2-to-1 match from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The battle in Africa has been won for the moment, but we need your strength to help us win the war.
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