Letter: Help the fight to eradicate polio
It’s not often that residents of the Middle Peninsula can save the life of a child and have fun at the same time. This Saturday from 3 to 8 p.m. at the third annual Beer, Bands and Brats by the Bay at Williams Wharf, Middle Peninsula residents can do just that. Mathews Rotary joins Rotary International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in a pledge to eradicate polio worldwide by 2018.
Poliomyelitis is a virus that effects nerves mainly in children age five or younger. Five to 10 percent of those paralyzed die when breathing is compromised. The virus is found in feces and saliva of the infected and spread by direct contact (sneezing, coughing) or in food and water contaminated with fecal matter. There is no cure for polio; therefore, protection through vaccination is critical. The polio virus remains alive until every child is vaccinated.
In 1979, Rotary clubs took on the project to buy and deliver polio vaccine to over 6 million in the Philippines. By 1985, Rotary launched Polio Plus internationally, coordinating with private/public health management entities. In 1988, polio was found in 125 countries, but by 2012, that number was reduced to three countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria) due to these efforts. Only those three countries remain polio-endemic, but in 2014, six countries were added to the list with individual breakouts, called “renewed spread.” This highlights the need to continue the fight against this virus with a cost of 10 to 18 cents per dose of oral vaccination. The remaining vaccinations will be the most difficult to deliver because the virus remains in the hardest-to-reach regions of the world.
All this brings us back to how we can help. Every dollar received at the BBB by the Bay will be tripled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We are so close to eradication. Come do your part.
Mathews Rotary Club