End of polio within sight
Seattle news anchor Penny LeGate tells incoming district governors they are almost there in the effort to eradicate polio. Rotary Images/Monika Lozinska-Lee
You're almost there, was the message reporter Penny LeGate gave to district governors-elect during the 2010 International Assembly in an update on Rotary's efforts to eradicate polio.
LeGate, a news anchor and reporter for KIRO-TV in Seattle, Washington, USA, has traveled with Rotarians to countries such as Ethiopia and India to participate in and report on National Immunization Days (NIDs).
"At this time in history, you're in the home stretch, you're walking the last mile, but it's not proving to be easy," she said during the fourth plenary session.
Since 1985, when Rotary launched PolioPlus, the volunteer arm of the global partnership to eradicate polio, the number of polio-endemic countries has declined from 125 to 4 -- Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan -- and the number of new polio cases each year has been reduced from 350,000 to 2,000.
Security problems, political instability, and poor infrastructure and sanitation continue to pose challenges to eradicating the disease, said LeGate.
But political negotiations and new technology have helped Rotarians rise to meet these challenges. In Pakistan, medical teams send text messages to people in remote villages to notify them of upcoming NIDs. In Afghanistan, Days of Tranquility have been declared so vaccine can be delivered at less of a risk to health workers and recipients.
LeGate also emphasized the importance of Rotary's international reputation and its ability to gain the confidence of philanthropic organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has given Rotary two challenge grants totaling US$355 million.
"As a reporter, I've loved telling your story," she professed. "I'm hooked."
Learn more about Rotary's effort to eradicate polio:
Read more about polio and what you can do to help.
Watch a video about Rotary's progress in meeting the US$200 Million Challenge