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Celebrating 111 years of Rotary

As part of a year-long celebration to mark Rotary’s 111th anniversary and its 31st year in the fight to end polio, Rotary clubs worldwide are holding events and raising funds and awareness needed to eradicate this paralyzing and potentially fatal disease once and for all.

The Rotary Club of Oshawa-Parkwood and its members have contributed more than $2,500 to help eradicate polio. The money has come from fundraising events such as the Annual Rotary Reverse Draw, Dinner & Silent Auction, scheduled this year for May 12 at the Oshawa Golf Club, and from many personal donations by club members.

Instead of giving their guest speakers at the weekly Rotary meetings a gift, the Rotary Clubs thanks each guest speaker by making this annual donation to PolioPlus.

These donations from the club and from its members follows a succession of significant developments that have brought the world closer to eradicating a human disease for only the second time in history.

In 2014, the entire World Health Organization-designated Southeast Asia Region (SEARO) was declared polio-free, which includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Timor-Leste.

“On Sept. 25, 2015, we celebrated an exciting milestone on the road to polio eradication. The World Health Organization declared Nigeria polio-free and removed it from the list of polio-endemic countries. This means there are no longer any polio-endemic countries in Africa, and only two endemic countries remain in the world. With a fully funded program and global commitment to ending this disease, we have the opportunity to interrupt transmission of the wild poliovirus in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2016, opening the door for the certification of global eradication in 2019. An increase in resources of $1.5 billion will help Rotary and its partners to focus on the last and most vulnerable children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, while continuing to protect hundreds of millions of children already living in polio-free countries,” announced Mike McLaren, Oshawa-Parkwood Rotary Club President.

Rotary launched its flagship PolioPlus program in 1985, and in 1988 became a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since the global initiative began in 1988, the number of polio cases has plummeted by more than 99 per cent, from about 350,000 cases a year to less than 370 in 2014, 102 in 2015 and three to date in 2016.

More than 2.5 billion children have been immunized in 122 countries, preventing five million cases of paralysis and 250,000 deaths.

Rotary’s main responsibilities are fundraising, advocacy, and volunteer recruitment. Since 1995, the advocacy efforts of Rotary and its partners have helped raise more than $8 billion from donor governments. And Rotary clubs also provide on-the-ground help in polio-affected communities.

This week, two members of Rotary Club of Oshawa-Parkwood and a spouse are in India, at their own expense, administering vaccines to children to ensure polio never returns to the country. It is Rotary’s birthday present from Oshawa -Parkwood Rotarians to the children of India.

If you would like to learn more about Rotary or become a member, check out www.rotaryoshawa-parkwood.org. Alternatively, you can contact Rotarian Lennis Trotter at 905-985-0963 or by email at lennis.trotter@hotmail.com, Or Rotarian Linda Porritt at 905-579-7339 or by email at linda.porritt@century21.ca.