Rotarians fight for a polio-free world

Rotarians administer polio vaccine to local residents at the Dr. Shankar Nath clinic and permanent polio immunization center in Mithipur, India. 20080423-24_IN
Rotarians administer polio vaccine to local residents at the Dr. Shankar Nath clinic and permanent polio immunization center in Mithipur, India. 20080423-24_IN

Local Rotarians are among millions across the globe who spread the word about World Polio Day on Tuesday (October 24), raising awareness, funds and support to end polio.

On World Polio Day, Rotarians across the globe marked the historic progress towards a polio-free world holding events and urging communities to support the battle to end the vaccine preventable paralysing disease that still threatens children in parts of the world today.

Colin Goldsack, Press Officer for the Rotary Club of Senlac, says the club has staged many events over the years to raise funds for the cause including the Hastings Half marathon and quizzes. “Earlier this year Little Common roundabout was full of purple crocuses planted by the club the previous autumn,” he said.

“Purple is the colour of the dye placed on the little finger on the left hand of a child to show they have been immunised against polio, hence the name Purple4Polio. With millions of children to vaccinate, this makes it easier to see who has been protected and who has not.”

To mark World Polio Day, Rotarians across Britain and Ireland celebrated the event by lighting iconic buildings purple. Many Rotarians descended on the Olympic Park, joining Ambassadors Ade Adepitan and Julia Roberts for a free celebration event. This included planting more than 30,000 crocus corms, and illuminating the park’s fountains in purple.

Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland also joined forces with the Royal Horticultural Society to plant around five million purple crocus corms, adding to seven million planted last year, as part of their Purple4Polio campaign to raise awareness and funds for End Polio Now.

Colin says Rotary worldwide has contributed more than US$ 1.7billion (£1.3billion) to ending polio since 1985, adding: “Senlac Rotary has raised significant funds over the years and in the last five years has contributed nearly £5,000 towards the campaign.

“Since Rotary and its partners launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative nearly 30 years ago, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases a year in 125 countries to just 37 cases in three remaining polio-endemic countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, in 2016.

“We have never been closer to making history and fulfilling Rotary’s goal of a polio-free world with just eleven cases of wild poliovirus worldwide so far this year in Afghanistan and Pakistan

“The total eradication of Polio is so close but much more effort and money are needed to totally rid the world of this awful disease.”

For more information visit: https://www.rotarygbi.org/polio-eradication or: www.senlacrotary.org.uk