‘End polio now’ campaign |09 November 2022
The world media headlines has been dominated by the Covid pandemic for the past two years in part due to its rapid impact on the health of the population and the high rate of mortality in a short space of time.
Some organisations such as Rotary International carried on the fight for other debilitating diseases such as polio or poliomyelitis, a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person to person and can infect a person's spinal cord, causing paralysis.
Rotary International launched a global effort in 1985 to immunise the world’s children against polio followed by the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988. When the GPEI started, polio paralysed more than 1,000 children worldwide every day. Since then, more than 2.5 billion children have been immunised against polio thanks to the cooperation of more than 200 countries and 20 million volunteers.
As a founding partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary has to date helped to reduce polio cases by more than 99.9 percent.
So why do we still need to focus on the eradication of polio and why is there a day – October 24 ‒ dedicated to polio?
The World Health Organisation at its assembly in 1988, voted to establish October 24 as World Polio Day to galvanise efforts to spread the awareness of this disease and highlight global efforts in this work.
This is because it is indeed crucial to eradicate polio from the last two countries where it remains endemic and secondly to ensure that every country remains polio-free.
If all eradication efforts stopped today, within 10 years, polio could paralyse as many as 200,000 children each year.
On October 24 this year, the Rotary Club of Victoria organised a special meeting focusing on raising awareness and funds towards the Eradication of Polio Campaign. The meeting was also attended by members of the Coco de Mer Rotary Club and Rotaract Club.
Dr Shobha Hajarnis from the Ministry off Health was the guest speaker invited to give those present a summary of Seychelles’ position in relation to polio.
Dr Shobha gave an excellent talk which everyone found to be very enlightening and enriching, raising awareness as to why we cannot give up the fight against polio.
The last case of polio in Seychelles was in 1966 but it was only in August 2020, when the whole of the African continent was certified polio free that Seychelles was officially certified as a polio free country. We cannot drop our guard because if we have just one case of polio will change our status as polio free.
Dr Shobha explained that the movement of people in and between countries is a major challenge to keeping the world polio free. Similarly migration in the construction and hospitality industries pose a challenge for Seychelles
Polio therefore remains part of the ministry‘s integrated disease surveillance and response (IDSR) programme.
For Rotary’s flagship Eradication of Polio campaign all rotary clubs are invited to donate $1500 each year.
Rotary Club of Victoria has for the past 40 years commemorated October 24, by raising awareness and funds to contribute to the global effort to make the world polio-free. This year’s event raised a total of US $ 2,500.