Volunteers travel across the globe to battle polio in remaining strongholds
World on the verge of eradicating second disease after smallpox
(Evanston, IL - USA: February 2008) More than 100 volunteers from the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe will travel to India and the West African country of Nigeria to immunize children against polio – a crippling and potentially fatal disease that still threatens children in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
These volunteers - all members of Rotary, a humanitarian service organization that has made polio eradication its top philanthropic goal - will work with local authorities and Rotary members to help administer the drops of oral polio vaccine to every child under the age of five, deliver the vaccine to remote villages and educate families on the importance of protecting children against polio. The following teams will depart in February 2008:
India (Feb 6-7) -- Team of 10 volunteers (from central CA)
Team Leader: Anil Garg (Simi Valley, CA) (805) 520-9790 email@example.com
India (Feb 10-21) -- Team of 15 volunteers (from The Netherlands)
Team Leader: Diana Bakker (Neatherlands) +31 (0) 6 21 223 457 firstname.lastname@example.org
India (Feb 6-20) -- Team of 55 volunteers (from U.S., Canada, Sweden, England, and Australia)
Team Leader: Elias Thomas (Acton, ME) (207) 432-2222 email@example.com
Nigeria (Feb 17-28) -- Team of 18 volunteers (from U.S., and Denmark)
Team Leader: Ann Hussey (S. Berwick, ME) (603) 767-6134 firstname.lastname@example.org
Nigeria (Feb 19-29) -- Team of 15 volunteers (from central CA, TX, OR, and AZ)
Team Leader: Bruce Howard (Cambria, CA) (805) 927-6181 email@example.com
India and Nigeria are the major strongholds of polio and among just four countries (including Pakistan and Afghanistan) where the wild poliovirus has never been stopped. World health experts say that a polio-free world now hinges on these four countries.
India holds the highest number of polio cases of any single country, having reported 831 out of a global total of 1,261 cases in 2007. “With new methods and more effective vaccines, we have the tools to beat polio in India,” said Anil Garg, team leader of the group traveling to his former homeland of India. “We must ensure that every child is reached, including those in the most difficult and remote areas.”
Nigeria, once the global epicenter of polio has seen a 75 percent decline in cases between 2006, when 1,122 cases were reported, and 2007, which had 282 cases. http://www.polioeradication.org/casecount.asp “We are thrilled with the stunning progress Nigeria made against polio last year,” said Bruce Howard, who is leading his second volunteer team to Nigeria. “Yet the current situation is far from satisfactory. No child should suffer from this vaccine-preventable disease. That’s why we’re back again this year, to make sure no child goes unprotected.” More than 41 million Nigerian children under five years are targeted for vaccination in February.
Rotary’s commitment to end polio represents the largest private-sector support of a global health initiative ever. Since 1985, Rotary has contributed more than US$650 million, a figure that will increase to $850 million by the time polio is eradicated. Besides raising and contributing funds, over one million men and women of Rotary have volunteered their time and personal resources to help immunize more than 2 billion children in 122 countries.
With its community-based network worldwide, Rotary is the volunteer arm of a global partnership dedicated to eradicating polio. Since the 1988 launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, when 125 countries were polio-endemic and more than 350,000 children paralyzed by the disease each year, polio cases have been slashed by 99 percent.
Rotary International is the world’s first and one of the largest non-profit humanitarian service organizations. It is comprised of 1.2 million business and professional leaders in 200 countries and geographical regions. Rotary members initiate community projects that address many of today’s most critical issues such as violence, AIDS, hunger, the environment and health care.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
For further information visit www.rotary.org or www.polioeradication.org