SERVICE CLUBS: Polio can be defeated

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Sultan Jessa

Officials of Rotary International say the world can and will eventually defeat polio.

Defeating polio is the major project of Rotary International.

A few weeks ago, three workers in a polio eradication campaign were shot in Pakistan.

Two of them were killed.

After the attacks, the United Nations-backed campaign was halted.

It is widely believed Taliban were behind the attack and killings.

Taliban militants have long opposed the campaign.

Some have claimed it aims to sterilize people.

However, glances at the latest figures for polio incidence it appears that the world in within touching distance of eradication the dreaded disease.

Last year, there were just 205 cases of naturally occurring polio virus compared with 650 cases in 2011 and a staggering 350,000 a quarter of a century ago.

According to Bill Gates, the billionaire philanthropist there are now three countries where transmission of the disease has never been halted compared to 125 countries in the late 1980s.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries still trying to battle polio.

For years now, Rotary International has joined forces with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization and the United Nations to eradicate polio from the face of the earth.

Since 1988, Rotary International and Rotarians around the world have been working to wipe out polio.

The foundation started by Gates of Microsoft and his wife Melinda has been working closely with Rotary International in the fight against polio.

To date, Rotary has contributed more than $900 million to the polio eradication effort.

“If we all have the fortitude to see this effort through to the end, then we will eradicate polio,” said Gates, co-chair of his foundation.

The Gates are helping to eradicate polio, a viral disease that spreads from person to person.

Polio has the potential to affect nerves and could lead to partial or full paralysis.

This disease is still endemic in certain developing countries.

Thanks to Rotary and its partners, the world has been polio cases plummet by more than 99 per cent.

When Rotary began its eradication work, polio infected more than 350,000 children annually.

In 2009, fewer than 1,700 cases were reported worldwide.

A Rotary International spokesman said as long as polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, all children, wherever they live, remain at risk.

With more than 33,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas, Rotary is able to reach out to national governments worldwide to generate crucial financial and technical support for polio eradication.

The Gates are the most influential voices in global health.

Through the Gates Foundation, the couple has already given away nearly $30-billion of their fortune to fight diseases like polio.

Organizations: Rotary International, United Nations, Taliban Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation World Health Organization

Geographic location: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria

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