There are few times in life when we get the chance to make a difference that will continue on into the indefinite future. Even fewer opportunities present themselves when average people can do it. Eradicating a disease from the face of the earth entirely would be one of these chances. It was done with smallpox. Now, according to Rotary International, an organization I believe in, it is polio’s turn to end completely and West Chester is a center for the battle. October 24 was declared World Polio Day marked with a gathering in front of the Historic Courthouse in West Chester. There is still time to participate in the movement to end this disease worldwide. See www.rotary.org/donate . There is also importantly another way.
On Sunday, November 3, only a few days from now, at 4:00 pm, West Chester’s Knauer Uptown Performing Arts Center will host a documentary “Dare to Dream” documenting the progress of the END POLIO NOW movement along with what continues to be done and can be done to meet the objective to end the disease. It will be combined with food, beverages, and networking along with awareness raising, and celebration to support our Rotary District efforts for this worldwide initiative. The link for tickets is https://app.arts-people.com/index,php?show+107035 . You can still attend.
For those new to this information, Rotary for many years has targeted elimination of polio as a primary objective. It is no small initiative. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contributes with matching grants. For the next three years the Gates Foundation will match every $1 given for polio eradication through Rotary 2 to 1 up to $50 million per year. This would include contribution as described here.
Two of my uncles had polio. One was affected in walking, the other in his arm. Those old enough will remember mass immunizations in this country conducted through the schools. Polio is one of those diseases that, if we do not see it, we believe it no longer exists. It is extremely contagious. It has no cure. The way to end it is through immunization. In 1994 as the result of successful immunizations, the Americas were declared polio free.
In 2011 India was declared polio free with no new instances of the disease for several years. Currently Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to incur new cases and Nigeria is still at risk. Various numbers have been given. The most recent I have heard is 88 cases worldwide. Polio can spread. It has been described as a plane ride away. An estimated 10% of Americans have not been immunized.
This is not the only Rotary health initiative but it is regarded as key. Others include but are not limited to maternal and child health. Obstacles include nations at war, with lack of sanitation and lack of adequate health care, cases that can spread in refugee camps. In the course of working to eradicate polio, workers who have included those from the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the CDC and governments throughout the world that have contributed have encountered stubborn resistance from these factors and lack of understanding. It is easier today to protect children from polio than in the past. Years ago polio immunizations were only administered by injection. Today, a few drops can save a child from the disease without invasive procedures.
For those who question the initiative Rotary International gives 5 reasons to eradicate polio. 1. To Improve Lives. 16 million people are walking today who would have otherwise been paralyzed. 2. To Invest in the Future. If polio isn’t eradicated, within 10 years, as many as 200,000 children could be paralyzed by it each year. A polio-free world will be a safer world for children everywhere. 3. To Improve Child Health. Polio surveillance networks and vaccination campaigns also monitor children for other health problems like vitamin deficiency and measles, so they can be addressed sooner. 4. To Save Money. A polio-free world will save the global economy $40-$50 billion in health costs within the next 20 years. 5. To Make History. Polio eradication would be one of history’s greatest public health achievements, with polio following smallpox to become only the second human disease eliminated from the world.
Make it happen!
Esquire, Colliton Law Associates, P.C. Janet Colliton has practiced law for over 38 years, 37 of them in Chester County, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. Her practice, Colliton Law Associates, PC, is limited to elder law, Medicaid, including advice, applications and appeals, and other benefits planning including Veterans benefits, life care and special needs planning, guardianships, retirement, and estate planning and administration.