Purple Up for polio fight

Rotarians around the world are making the final push to eliminate polio from the planet

Each $1 donations equals one vaccination.

Quesnel Rotarians will set up shop Oct. 24, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., in all banks and financial institutions in Quesnel looking for donations to help eradicate polio from the world. Each donation of $1 means one more vaccination for a child at risk.

For more than 25 years, Rotary International has made the eradication of polio one of their top priorities. Since 1985, more than two billion children have received the oral polio vaccine and five million children, destined to be polio victims, are walking today and enjoying a better life because of the global immunization.

Poliomyelitis is a crippling and potentially fatal disease that still threatens children in parts of Africa and the Middle East. The poliovirus invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. It can strike at any age, but mainly affects children under five years of age.

Despite the dramatic drop in polio cases in the last year, the threat of continued transmission due to funding and immunization gaps has driven the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to launch the Global Polio Emergency Action Plan 2012-13.

The plan aims to boost vaccination coverage in the three remaining polio-endemic countries – Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – to levels needed to stop polio transmission. Health ministers meeting at the World Health Assembly in Geneva adopted a resolution on May 25 that declared “the completion of polio eradication to be a programmatic emergency for global public health.”

Rotary International is working closely with its global partners to cross that last threshold of eradicating the poliovirus. With its community-based network worldwide, Rotary is the volunteer arm and top private sector contributor to the global partnership dedicated to eradicating polio.

In 1988, there were 350,000 cases in 125 countries – in 2004, there were 1,263 cases.

However, the poliovirus knows no borders – it can spread from an endemic country into polio-free areas. As long as one case remains in the world, no child

is safe from this deadly disease.

Once immunized, the children’s little fingers are dyed purple to keep track of who has already been given the protective medication, now known as the Purple Pinkie.

Correlieu Interact Club (Quesnel) organized the first Purple Pinkie Project in Quesnel in 2009 and raised more than $400, which is 400 vaccinations.

“When I was president of Quesnel Rotary in 1989, the goal was eradication by 2000,” Peter Walsh said.

“We’ve been working on this for many years and we are this close to eradicating polio from the planet.”

Walsh is currently chair of the Purple Pink Project in Quesnel.

Watch for volunteers in your bank or financial institution, Oct. 24 and give generously to help eliminate polio from the planet.

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