Rotary continues polio campaign

October is Rotary International’s End Polio Now Month and October 24 is End Polio Now Day. Photo by Kristine Wook on Unsplash

With the Covid-19 pandemic raging throughout the world, it is a stark reminder that a lifetime ago the Polio virus was causing deaths and disabilities across the globe in a similar way.

October is Rotary International’s End Polio Now Month and October 24 is End Polio Now Day.

Howick Rotary have marked the occasion by accepting a challenge to raise money to help achieve the End Polio Now goal.

The Challenge has been organised across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and was for all active Rotary members to donate a minimum of $10 per person. With 35 members in the club and the Rotary Club of Howick Community Trust matching members’ donations, the club has raised more than $2200 towards the appeal.

When this donation gets to Rotary International it will be matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on a 2:1 basis so $2200 will become $6600 to assist the global vaccination programme to eradicate this terrible disease.

Rotary has been working to eradicate polio for more than 35 years.

The disease mainly affects children under 5 and there is no cure but it is preventable with a vaccine. The goal of ridding the world of this disease is closer than ever.

As a founding partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary has reduced polio cases by 99.9 per cent since the first project to vaccinate children in the Philippines in 1979.

Today, polio remains endemic only in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But it’s crucial to continue working to keep other countries polio-free. If all eradication efforts stopped today, within 10 years, polio could paralyse as many as 200,000 children each year.

Full protection for one child only costs US$3 but the ongoing global surveillance and immunisation programme costs more than US$100 million ($141m) per annum.

The End Polio Now programme and the time that it has taken to achieve 99.9 per cent reduction in polio cases is a huge reminder that the only way out of the today’s Covid pandemic is for everyone to get vaccinated.

If members of the public would like to make a donation to the End Polio Now programme or if you would like to know more about Rotary’s local and international activities, contact Rob Mouncey 021 413341 or email rob.mary@xtra.co.nz.