We are “this close” to ending polio once and for all but that last bit is maybe the most challenging……
Rotary, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988. In 2007, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joined Rotary in its commitment to ending polio.
Since 2013, the Gates Foundation has matched every $1 Rotary commits to polio eradication 2- to -1, up to $35 million per year. Rotary, with matching funds from the Gates Foundation, has contributed more than $1.6 billion to end polio.
When Rotary launched its push to end polio in the 1980s, the wild poliovirus crippled nearly 1,000 people every day. Since we started the fight against polio, we’ve reduced the number of polio cases by 99.9 percent and reached more than 2.5 billion children with the vaccine. India has been polio free for three years in a row now and there are fewer polio cases today than ever before, but we will not stop until we reach zero. If polio is not eradicated, hundreds of thousands of children could be paralyzed. Global health care costs would rise dramatically, and many children’s quality of life would be drastically diminished.
The commitment of Rotary volunteers worldwide demonstrates the extraordinary role civil society can play in improving global health. Especially every year on the 24th of October, in honor of World Polio Day, Rotary clubs around the globe are doing their part to raise awareness and critically-needed funds to vanquish the disease forever.
Our club was formed in 2006, and as it happens that is when the last cases were reported in Indonesia. Now, Indonesia has been polio free for 12 years. But this is the second time as Indonesia was free from polio from 1995 until 2005. Then there was an outbreak centered on West Java with the virus apparently introduced from Sudan – and there were over 200 reported cases. The Indonesian Government, assisted by international groups including Rotary International, responded rapidly with large scale vaccinations in the affected areas.
This 2005 outbreak was a wakeup call and reminds us that when polio is re-introduced to a country where the vaccination levels are low, it can spread rapidly. So our club actively supports the global effort to eradicate polio from the remaining countries which are Afghanistan and Nigeria. Total eradication will take a few years, but if we succeed, then our government and other governments can drop polio from their vaccination programs. And no more children will be crippled from this disease. It’s worth fighting for. Once eradicated, polio will become the second human disease ever eradicated – the first was smallpox. This will fulfill Rotary’s promise to create a polio-free world.
The Rotary Club of Bali Lovina for many years held a Polio Fundraiser in the second week of December. This fundraiser brought the community together, was always visited by many people and got sponsored by numerous businesses in the area. Our club managed to meet the pledge of yearly raising 1000 dollars per Rotary club, in order to help the Rotary Foundation reaching the $35 million challenge.
Our polio fundraisers made our club visible in the area. The fundraisers became a nice tradition during the December holiday season at the time.
Our work for the polio eradication program is just an example of how a small club can contribute to bigger goals. Most of our work however is taking place in small scale community service projects, like our eye glasses program for high school students and our elementary school classroom libraries.
We are always looking for people interested in joining us in our work by becoming a member or friend to our club. We meet for coffee every second Wednesday morning at ten o’clock at the Tempo Doeloe restaurant in central Lovina, between 10:00 and 11:30. Everybody is very welcome to come and join us and learn more about our club and the work we are doing. Please call/ sms/ whatsapp first, to make sure we are not away for work in the field on that day. Phone number; +62 (0) 82 144 838 929. You can also visit our website for more information; www.jepunsegara.com/rotaryclubbalilovina or look us up at Facebook www.facebook.com/rotary.lovina.
Looking forward to seeing you at one of our meetings soon!
Conchita de Jong – President 2017-2018
Note: some of the information in this article came from Rotary International, and you can find this information and more at rotary.org/endpolio.
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