Emporium Rotary members forego a hot cooked lunch by brown bagging it at their luncheon meeting October 24th and donating their lunch money to The Rotary Foundation for World Polio Day. Each year, the club donates a substantial amount towards the eradication of polio in the world.
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a crippling and potentially fatal disease that still threatens children in parts of the world. The poliovirus invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis in a matter of hours. It can strike at any age but mainly affects children under five. Today, there are only three countries that have never stopped transmission of the wild poliovirus: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Fewer than 250 polio cases were reported worldwide in 2012, which is a 99% reduction since the 1980s, when the world saw about 1,000 cases per day. If we don't stay the course, experts say polio could rebound to 10 million cases in the next 40 years. The polio cases represented by the remaining one percent 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.
Thanks to a new campaign, every dollar donated to Rotary will be matched 2-to-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These funds help to provide much-needed operational support, medical personnel, laboratory equipment, and educational materials for health workers and parents. Governments, corporations and private individuals all play a crucial role in funding. Rotary launched its Polio Plus program, the first initiative to tackle global polio eradication, in 1985. Since then, Rotary and its partners have helped reduce the number of annual cases from 350,000 to fewer than 250 and remain committed until every child is safe from the disease. Rotary has contributed more than US$1.2 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect more than 2 billion children in 122 countries.
In addition, Rotary’s advocacy efforts have played a role in decisions by donor governments to contribute over $9 billion to the effort. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, formed in 1988,is a public-private partnership including Rotary, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and governments of the world. Rotary’s focus is advocacy, fundraising, volunteer recruitment and awareness-building. More than one million Rotary members have donated their time and personal resources to end polio. Every year, hundreds of Rotary members work side-by-side with health workers to vaccinate children in polio-affected countries. Rotarians work with partners like UNICEF to prepare and distribute mass communication tools to share the message with those isolated by conflict, geography, or poverty. Rotary members also recruit fellow volunteers, assist with transporting the vaccine, and provide other logistical support.