Rotary members from Comox will travel to India, where they will immunize children against polio, a crippling disease that still paralyzes and sometimes kills children in parts of the world.
The two-member team will depart for India on Feb. 13 and will return on Feb. 24.
These volunteers are members of Rotary, a worldwide humanitarian service organization that has polio eradication as its main philanthropic goal. Rotary members will join other volunteers and health workers to administer drops of oral polio vaccine during an immunization campaign that will target millions of children under age five.
Tim Cowan, a Rotary club member of Comox, said, “Until polio is eradicated worldwide, every child remains at risk. Although polio is 99 per cent eliminated, the final one per cent is the most difficult. We must continue our efforts until all children are protected against the tragic consequences of this disease.”
The Rotary group will work with teams of volunteers to administer the drops of oral polio vaccine to every child under the age of five. In remote villages, the volunteers will walk house to house to ensure that every child is reached.
“We are committed to ending polio now,” Cowan said. “We have an unique opportunity to stop this disease. We will do everything we can to ensure that no child is missed.”
Tremendous progress has been made overall in India. Once recognized as the world’s epicentre of polio, India recently marked a full year since the last reported polio case in the country. If all pending laboratory investigations return negative, in the coming weeks India will officially be deemed to have stopped indigenous transmission of wild poliovirus (WPV).
The number of polio-endemic countries, those which have never stopped indigenous WPV transmission, will then be reduced to a historical low of three: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
A highly infectious disease, polio can cause paralysis and death. As there is no cure, the best protection is prevention. For as little as US .60 cents worth of vaccine, a child can be protected against this crippling disease for life.
Since 1985, Rotary has contributed more than US$1 billion to help immunize 2.5 billion children in 122 countries. The organization is working to raise additional funds toward a US$355 million challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The public is encouraged to participate at rotary.org/endpolio.
Besides raising and contributing funds, Rotary’s 1.2 million volunteers have donated their time and personal resources.
Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide to provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. It is comprised of 1.2 million members working in more than 33,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographic regions.
For more information, visit rotary.org/endpolio or polioeradication.org.