For more than 30 years, Rotarians around the world have made it a priority to eradicate polio.
And they are close to making that happen, says NOTL Rotary Club member Barb Babij.
Internationally, Rotary clubs have become the volunteer arm of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and since 1988, have raised $1.2 billion, which has accomplished the vaccination of almost three billion children, in 122 countries, says Babij.
There are only two countries left world-wide where polio remains, Afghanistan and Pakistan, she says.
Part of the reason is the difficulty in reaching remote villages, but also the level of conflicts in those countries have made it difficult, “and COVID has complicated it even further,” says Babij. However, the infrastructure developed in some countries for polio vaccinations have made it easier to
vaccinate against COVID, she added.
It’s also critical to continue to keep other countries polio-free says Babij, “or within 10 years, polio could paralyze as many as 200,000 children each year.”
As chair of the club’s polio education committee, Babij will be walking in this Saturday’s Participate For Polio Walk/Ride/Roll, and invites others to join the fundraising event, or donate if they are unable to participate.
The Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation will match two-for-one all proceeds from Rotary efforts around the world, says Babij, so the fundraising total will be significant.
“We (the world) are 0.1 per cent away from eradicating polio. When we are successful, it will be only the second disease completely eradicated — the first was smallpox.”
This Saturday, Oct. 2, participants can choose to bike 13 or 30 kilometres, on routes mapped out for them, or walk five kilometres. The event starts from the St. Davids Lions Park pavilion, at 10 a.m., and finishes back at the park where Lions members will host a fundraising barbecue.
All COVID protocols will be followed, and proof of vaccinations is required. To register, or to sponsor an existing team, visit: https://raise.rotary.org/Frank-Adamson/challenge1.
World Polio Day is Oct. 24, and to recognize the day, the club is providing a local initiative, a virtual presentation of international polio specialist Dr. Richard Bruno speaking on the topic of COVID: Polio, Deja Vu, on Oct. 19. He will be explaining the post-polio syndrome, and the link between polio and COVID-19.
Following the presentation, it will be posted on the club’s website.