This Close to Ending Polio!

Posted on January 23, 2017 by Dr. Lynda

Great causes and organizations have a way of standing the test of time. Here are two that are intertwined, and doubly inspiring.

Did you know we are on the verge of celebrating the end of Polio on this planet and an organization that we’ve all heard of is in the thick of the fight!

Image: A bumper sticker that says "Good by Polio, Thanks Rotary"
Source: Ending Polio with the Orange Rotary

This was all news to me. First, I had no idea we were close to wiping Polio off the face of our planet, and second, I certainly didn’t realize that our local Rotary clubs had any connection to this fight!

Rotary is to be commended for being a leader in this charge. Take a look at their latest compelling promotion from Kristen Bell:

Via: Rotary 1

Did you catch those numbers? As recent as 1988, there were 350,000 Polio cases worldwide each year and they’ve driven that down to 350 per year. Now that’s progress!

And in another Rotary video, I learned that by 2015, 2.5 billion children had been vaccinated! That just boggles the mind.

This is such great news!

Most of us have heard of Polio, but it’s so far from our everyday awareness now that we barely realize how devastating this disease was on families, not that long ago. Here’s a short piece to get us up to speed:

So, prior to the 1950’s Polio (or poliomyelitis) was a disease that could strike children in communities all around the planet, without warning. It can disable a child for life, and prior to the advancements of vaccinations in the 1960’s, every child – no matter their place in society – was susceptible.  According to WHO, the polio virus strikes children under the age of 6 most often. It can permanently damage nerve cells that allow the control of various muscles, and if a muscle isn’t used, it atrophies. The problem comes when the child continues to grow in some contorted fashion around the paralyzed body part.

Fortunately, it sounds like the days of polio victims needing colorful, specially designed tricycles like this are fading into the past.

Image: Nigerians with polio sitting on their colorful bicycles that function like wheel chairs
Source: Ending polio with the United Nations

Rotary International and Ending Polio

I was a little taken aback by the fact that Rotary International was leading this visionary cause. I hadn’t thought much about the Rotary Club’s role in the world order. This was really great to know!

Taking up the sword for the fight to eradicate polio has been a long term Rotary mission. They’ve been in this fight for almost 30 years since partnering with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and governments of the world to start The Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

And this is just one of the countless projects Rotary Clubs are doing all over the world. I had no idea! If you’d like to be inspired by the power of a crowd of nice people, have a look at their Rotary’s Project Webpage. It’s just extraordinary.

I know most of the people in our local Rotary Club (and they are all amazing citizens) but my impressions of the organization turned out to be ridiculously out-of-date. In a moment, we’ll show you they are partnering with the likes of Ziggy Marley!

First, let’s take a minute to understand why even 350 remaining cases on the planet is still not a success. There’s an unusual scientific sticking point to this disease that is very interesting. Take a look and you’ll see why only zero matters:

Via: Rotary 3

Fascinating. I just knew little or nothing about this great cause and its champions.

It’s these kinds of international campaigns that humans have become so good at.

So inspiring. People are just amazing aren’t they?

After this little journey, I might have to go look up my local Rotary chapter! Really! I know it’s a group of really nice people. It might be a place where any of us could feel like we were surrounded by positive possibility!

Let’s go out on this topic with a song by Ziggy Marley, written to highlight how close we are to eradicating this virus from the planet, forever:

Via: Rotary 4

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~ Dr. Lynda