You Can Help in the Fight to End Polio
I am grateful that as a parent here in the United States, I’ve never worried about my child suffering from polio. However it wasn’t that long ago that parents, even in the U.S., were consumed with worry. As I read Elizabeth Atalay’s article on the World Mom’s Blog recently, I realized my own parents could have been among those who suffered from polio. And while polio may not be a concern to parents in the U.S. these days, we only have to look at our global brothers and sisters to understand why we must continue our efforts to eradicate this crippling disease.
Currently, Nigeria is the world’s most endemic country for polio, followed by Pakistan and Afghanistan. According to data from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the total number of wild polio cases in 2012 was 222, with Nigeria having the highest number of 121.
Fortunately, eradicating polio has been a priority of Rotary International since 1985. When Rotary began the fight to end this disease, polio infected nearly 350,000 people – mostly children – in 125 countries every year. Since then, the number of polio cases has plummeted by more than 99%.
Looking back, 2012 was a historic year in the fight to end polio:
• 429 million children were vaccinated against polio.
• The year ended with the fewest wild polio cases, in the fewest places ever in history.
• Less than 300 polio cases were reported in 2012 – 60% less than 2011.
• India celebrates two years polio-free this month
So now, after nearly 30 years, and more than 2 billion children immunized against polio, Rotary and its partners are on the brink of making history. To help in the ongoing fight, Rotary is asking everyone to join in the World’s Biggest Commercial.
It’s an opportunity for people everywhere to make history by joining in a commercial starring thousands of people — leaders, celebrities, and even supporters like you and me living in every part of the world. Join Bill Gates, Jackie Chan, Ziggy Marley, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall, and Every Child By Two’s very own immunization champion, Amanda Peet, in Rotary’s “This Close” campaign. All you have to do is upload a photo of yourself making the “This Close” gesture to be added into the constantly growing commercial. Thanks to a $50,000 donation from PhRMA, every photo uploaded translates to a 60 cent donation – enough to protect a child from polio for life.
According to a recent article in Vanguard, Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, recently underscored his commitment to the global effort to eradicate polio while addressing the prestigious Dimbleby Lecture in London. He declared:
“We are on the verge of doing something we’ve never been able to do before; reaching the vast majority of children in the remotest places in the world. We are building systems, developing technology, and training workers that make it possible to help people who never got any help. When polio is gone, we can use the same systems, technology, and people to deliver other lifesaving solutions, especially routine vaccinations for diseases like rotavirus and measles.”
It’s true that when polio is eradicated, it will be a huge global health victory. However, as Bill Gates explains, the benefits will extend far beyond polio, paving the way for other important health improvements in some of the most remote places in the world.
However, we need to finish this fight first. If we don’t finish it now more than 10 million children under the age of five could be paralyzed in the next 40 years. And we are “this close”.
Visit End Polio Now to find out how you can help make history. Add your photo to the World’s Biggest Commercial. Share your voice on Facebook and Twitter. Or fund the fight with a simple donation. When a child can be vaccinated for a mere 60 cents, even the smallest of donations can make an enormous impact.