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World Polio Day 2018

World Polio Day will be celebrated globally on 24th October 2018, generating awareness towards the eradication of polio worldwide says Stuart Batty, Rotary International PolioPlus National Advocacy Advisor for New Zealand.

“Rotary is the leading non-governmental voluntary organisation contributor to Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) having partnered with World Health Organization (WHO), US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The goal of the GPEI is global certification of polio eradication, that is the cessation of transmission of all polio viruses.” Batty added “by the time the world is certified polio-free, Rotary’s contribution will have exceeded NZ$3.3 billion, including matching funds from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”

Rotarians provide volunteer support during vaccination campaigns as well their fundraising and advocacy. From the launch of the GPEI in 1988, an estimated 17.4 million people, mainly in the developing world who would otherwise have been paralysed, are walking freely because they have been immunised. More than 650,000 paralytic cases are now prevented annually

. Since 1988, more than 2.5 billion children have received oral polio vaccine. In 2017, a record 430 million children were vaccinated in 39 countries. As long as the indigenous wild poliovirus transmission continues in the last remaining endemic countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the risk of international spread of polio remains. Particularly vulnerable are countries bordering the endemic countries.

Once polio has been eradicated, the world will reap substantial financial and humanitarian dividends, due to bygone costs of polio treatment and rehabilitation. “Savings could exceed NZ$1.5 billion per year,” Batty said.

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