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Rotary to mark World Polio Day on October 24

Rotary Welcomes Assistant Governor. Mike Martin of Mattoon, Assistant Governor of Area 11, was guest speaker at the October 15 meeting of the Arthur Rotary Club. Martin talked to the club regarding the upcoming 2020 World Polio Awareness Day on October 24 and Rotary’s dedication to end this disease forever making it their number one goal. He talked about the history of polio and Rotary’s involvement over the years. Martin also addressed how the polio eradication program is pitching in to protect the vulnerable from COVID-19 by using their vast infrastructure developed to identify the polio virus and implement vaccination campaigns. They are fully committed to supporting national health systems to help mitigate and contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured is Shannon Cheek, Gale Pearce, Julie Paddock, President; Mike Martin, Assistant Governor and guest speaker; Jill Bunker, President-Elect, Tanya Walker, Past President; Leroy Allison, Sergeant at Arms; and Kevin Huffman, Secretary. Not pictured is Dave Allen, Tiffany Cash, Jim Jurgens, John Stewart, and Tom Stephenson.

Established by the Rotary International to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, the medical researcher who led the first team to develop a vaccine against polio, World Polio Day has been observed for over a decade now.

The disease commonly known as poliovirus is a highly infectious disease that typically affects children under the age of 5. The virus is spread person to person, usually through contaminated water. It can attack the nervous system, and in some instances, lead to paralysis.

Although there is no cure, there is a safe and effective vaccine which Rotary and their partners use to immunize over 2.5 billion children worldwide.

Working to eradicate polio for more than thirty-five years, it was in 1979 when Rotary International first began its fight against polio with a multi-year project to immunize six million children in the Philippines. Rotary International and the World Health Organization launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1985. At that time, there were an estimated 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries.

They have reduced polio cases by 99.9 percent since their first project to vaccinate children and their goal of ridding the world of this disease is closer than ever.

Today, polio remains endemic only in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But it’s crucial to continue working to keep other countries polio-free. If all eradication efforts stopped today, within 10 years, polio could paralyze as many as 200,000 children each year.

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