Final push against polio

TODAY is World Polio Day (October 24), and huge success in the international fight against polio is being recognised by Storrington Rotary Club.

Rotary branches around the world have been raising money to battle the potentially lethal virus since 1985.

Rotary is now working to raise $200m in response to a $355m ‘challenge grant’ from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

With $180m raised so far, they are calling for one final push to consign the disease to the history books.

In Storrington, Rotarians have been collecting donations, organising fundraising events, and planting symbolic crocuses around the village.

They have raised £4,250 over the past two years.

Rotary Club of Storrington president Jan Taylor said: “We are grateful to the people in the Storrington area for their support without which we would be unable to achieve change in our local communities and on the world stage.”

A statement from the club said: “In October, we observe both World Polio Day and the birthday of Dr Jonas Salk, who developed the world’s first safe and effective vaccine against this crippling and sometimes deadly disease.

“We also celebrate the fact that the world is on the verge of eradicating one of the most feared diseases of the 20th century.

“When Rotary launched its push to end polio in the 1980s, the wild poliovirus crippled nearly 1,000 people every day.

“Since then, Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative have reduced the incidence of polio by 99 percent.

“This global fight against polio is one of the largest, most ambitious internationally coordinated health initiatives in history.

“And the push continues: This year, India has the lowest number of polio cases in history.

“We are ‘this close’ to ending polio.

“Once eradicated, polio will join smallpox as the only two human diseases ever eradicated, fulfilling Rotary’s promise to create a polio-free world.

However, the statement continues: “Despite this tremendous progress, children in some developing countries continue to be infected. That’s why Rotary and its partners must reach every child in some of the most challenging regions of the world with the oral polio vaccine.”

Polio is a disease of the nervous system which can paralyse or kill a victim within hours.

For more information visit www.ribi.org/thanks-for-life/the-fight-against-polio

Storrington Rotary Club meets at West Chiltington Golf Club, Broadbridge Road, every Monday at 7.30pm.

For more information call secretary David Langley on (01903) 535900.