PRESS RELEASE – OVER a decade ago, October 24 has been designated World Polio Day by Rotary International to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against Poliomyelitis, better known as polio.
The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies polio as a “crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease” for which there is no cure. However, polio can be prevented through immunization.
For much of the world, the story of polio is a simple one. After many years of fear, a vaccine was developed and in the developed world the disease was conquered. But for some of the underdeveloped world, the story was different in that the vaccine was not available in many countries, was too expensive or children simply could not be reached.
While the rest of the world relegated polio to its museums, those with limited access to the vaccine continued to fall victim to the disease, until Rotary stepped in and made a commitment to children that no matter where they lived or what their circumstances, they deserved to live free of polio.
PolioPlus, a Global Polio Eradication Initiative, through the efforts of a public-private partnership that includes Rotary, the World Health Organization and governments of the world, has reduced the number of cases of polio from an estimated 350,000 per year to just a few in 2017. The objective is to reach zero cases. To this end, Rotary International has committed to raising US$50 million a year for the next three years.
The Rotary Club of St. Lucia, through its various charitable fundraising activities, donates regularly to the global fund. In this regard, I take this opportunity to thank all of you for your continuous support of our activities and generous donations over the years.
This year, the Rotary Club of St. Lucia joined Rotary International for a World Polio Day livestream event that took place at the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle on October 24.