As part of World Polio Day on Monday, 24 October, Rotary clubs worldwide are making a push to raise funds to wipe out the crippling disease.
The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, which has supported Rotary’s 26-year mission to eradicate the crippling childhood disease, has donated more than US$17,000 to the cause over the years.
Some of its members have also travelled to rural India to help administer polio vaccinations.
Over the last two decades, polio cases have reduced by 99 per cent and Rotary, along with other international organisations, are aiming to get rid of the last 1 per cent.
As part of Rotary’s most recent campaign to match a US$355 million challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with $200 million by June 2012, the humanitarian service organisation is close to reaching its goal, with more than US$180 million raised so far.
The funding will support polio eradication in parts of Africa and South Asia. Since 1985, Rotary has contributed more than US$1 billion and countless volunteer hours to the protection of more than two billion children in 122 countries.
Polio remains endemic in just four countries – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan – although other countries remain at risk for imported cases.
The disease, which causes paralysis and can be fatal, is highly infectious. There is no cure, so the best protection is prevention.
One polio vaccination costs 60 cents and can protect a child against the disease for life.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by the World Health Organisation, Rotary International, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the United Nations Children’s Fund.