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Polio is still only a plane ride away

Polio is still only a plane ride away

Rotary New Zealand is committed to ensure that New Zealanders continue to play their part as global citizens to eradicate polio. Polio, a highly contagious viral infection may lead to paralysis, breathing problems, or even death.

Although New Zealand hasn’t had a case of polio since 1962, post polio syndrome continues to affect many New Zealanders.

Some 20 to 45 years after an initial attack, the recovered polio victim may begin to be affected by respiratory difficulties, depression, muscles weakness, cramp, pain and exhaustion which occur without warning. Since the global initiative began more than 25 years ago, Rotary worldwide and its partners have reduced polio cases by 99 percent. In 1988, more than 350,000 people were stricken by polio. In 2013 the number had fallen to 406.

Rotary’s role is fundraising, advocacy, fostering awareness and mobilising volunteers. Rotary’s partners are World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the Gates Foundation, and governments. Rotary’s involvement started with a successful pilot project in the Philippines in 1979. Since 1985, polio eradication has been Rotary’s number one project, helping to immunise more than 2 billion children in 122 countries. There are only three countries where the wild poliovirus prevails. Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Until polio is eradicated, children everywhere who are not immunised remain at risk. “Polio is still only a plane ride away” says Stuart Batty, Rotary New Zealand National Advocacy Advisor.

Outbreaks (genetically traced back to the three endemic countries) continue to threaten polio-free countries. Rotary has contributed more than $1.38 billion dollars and countless volunteer hours including New Zealanders joining health workers in polio-affected countries to immunise children. New Zealand has contributed more than $6.5 million since 1985.


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