World Polio Day in Toronto - End Polio Now Flag is Raised

 

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- In honor of World Polio Day 2012, hundreds of Rotarians from the 26 Rotary Clubs in Toronto were on hand, including the Rotary International District Governor Ted Koziel, to help raise the red END POLIO NOW at Toronto City Hall at 10:00 am on October 24 in honour of the Rotary Clubs of Toronto and their efforts in Rotary’s 27-year mission to eradicate the crippling childhood disease, polio

 

 

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- In honor of World Polio Day 2012, hundreds of Rotarians from the 26 Rotary Clubs in Toronto were on hand, including the Rotary International District Governor Ted Koziel, to help raise the red END POLIO NOW at Toronto City Hall at 10:00 am on October 24 in honour of the Rotary Clubs of Toronto and their efforts in Rotary’s 27-year mission to eradicate the crippling childhood disease, polio.

“The Mayor of Toronto. Dour Ford, has been invited to attend the flag raising ceremony, and we hope that his schedule permits”, announced Ted Koziel, Rotary International District Governor for the 55 Rotary Clubs in southern Ontario, including the 26 Rotary Clubs in Toronto.

“The City of Toronto Flag raising ceremony tells the whole world that October 24 is World Polio Day in Toronto and it honours the Rotary Clubs efforts in Rotary’s 27-year mission to eradicate the crippling childhood disease, polio”, he added.

As World Polio Day draws closer, the world is 99.9% polio free, the fight to end polio is not over and Rotary Clubs world-wide continue to raise funds to meet the challenge.  A US$700-million funding gap threatens to undermine all of the progress achieved against the disease since 1988, when Rotary joined with the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

In response to the crisis, Rotary International,  on Sept. 27, 2012, announced a funding commitment of $75 million for polio eradication over the next three years during a special United Nations General Assembly session on polio convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Rotary also delivered to the UN an online petition supporting polio eradication signed by more than 7,000 global citizens.

Also announced at the UN was a fundraising collaboration between the Government of Canada, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary clubs throughout Canada calling for the Canadian Government and the Gates Foundation each to match dollar-for-dollar up to C$1 million raised by Canadian Rotary clubs through their ongoing Contributions to the Polio Eradication initiative. The arrangement follows Rotary’s August letter-writing campaign urging members of Parliament to increase Canada’s support for polio eradication.

To date, Rotary members have contributed nearly $1.2 billion to the effort. Coinciding with World Polio Day, Rotary is ramping up its advocacy work in the 200 countries and regions where Rotary clubs exist to encourage every national government to commit to the funding levels needed to close the gap.

The irony is that despite the funding gap, there has never been a more opportune time to finish off polio, with new cases at an all-time low and the wild poliovirus now confined to only a few pockets in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. In 1988, polio infected and disabled about 350,000 people a year, most of them children. In 2011, fewer than 700 cases were reported – a reduction of more than 99 percent. The success is due to mass immunization drives that have reached more than two billion children with the oral polio vaccine.

But public health experts say that if the eradication effort stalls now, polio could rebound quickly, potentially paralyzing 250,000 children a year. Unvaccinated children everywhere, including countries now polio-free, would be at greatly increased risk.

World Polio Day follows a succession of significant developments that have made 2012 one of the most important years in the history of the polio eradication initiative.

 

·         In January, Rotary announced it had raised more than the $200 million in new money for polio eradication called for in a $355 million challenge grant from the Gates Foundation. The total is now $228 million and growing. In recognition of Rotary’s effort, the Gates Foundation added another $50 million. Total funding package: $605+ million.

·         In February, India was removed from the list of polio-endemic countries. Many health experts expected India to be polio’s final stronghold, so the country’s polio-free designation after a full year of no new cases represents a major milestone.

·         In May, the World Health Assembly declared polio eradication to be a “programmatic emergency for global public health,” in recognition of the dichotomy posed by the increased risk of failure due to the funding gap, opposite the significant progress represented by the reduction in cases and polio’s shrinking geographical presence.

The message to world leaders is clear: support the final push to achieve eradication now while the goal has never been closer, or face the potential consequences of a new polio pandemic that could disable millions of children within a decade.

On Wednesday, October 24, 2012 many cities all over the world are proclaiming Wednesday World Polio Day in honour of Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio from the world.  Durham’s Regional Chairman, Roger Anderson proclaimed World Polio Day in the entire Region of Durham and John Henry, The Mayor of Oshawa and fellow Rotarian in Oshawa, and Dave Barrow , The Mayor of Richmond Hill, have issued the same proclamations.

A highly infectious disease, polio causes paralysis and is sometimes fatal. As there is no cure, the best protection is prevention. For as little as US 60 cents worth of vaccine, a child can be protected against this crippling disease for life. After the successful engagement of over 200 countries and 20 million volunteers, polio could be the first human disease of the 21st century to be eradicated.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It includes the support of governments and other private sector donors.

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.

 “It is so important to generate the funds needed to End Polio Now. To fail is to invite a polio resurgence that would condemn millions of children to lifelong paralysis in the years ahead. The bottom line is this: As long as polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, all children – wherever they live – remain at risk”, said Mr. Patchett, Chairman of Rotary International District 7070’s (southern Ontario) Rotary Foundation and the End polio Now Coordinator for Rotary Clubs in Eastern Canada and northeastern United States.

The main objective of Rotary International is service, in the community and throughout the world. As volunteers, Rotarians build goodwill and peace, provide humanitarian service, and encourage high ethical standards in all vocations. 

Rotary invites the public to support the polio eradication initiative by visiting www.rotary.org/endpolio  and be sure to visit the www.rotary7070.org website for more information about the Rotary Clubs in Toronto.

 
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