Anyone in their seventies is likely to remember polio in the UK as a terrible disease that killed and paralysed some of the young children around them. Most of the younger population will, luckily, have no such memories although very recently there was alarm at poliovirus being found in sewage samples collected from the London Beckton Sewage Treatment Works! This prompted a renewed focus upon making sure all children in the country were vaccinated.
In 1985 Rotary International committed to lead a worldwide campaign to eradicate the disease. At this time, Polio was endemic in 125 countries where over 1,000 children were paralysed worldwide every day! Today almost all these countries are polio-free: final eradication of the disease now centres upon immunisation programmes in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Rotary Clubs in the Thames Valley District continue to support the polio campaign, raising funds and raising awareness, lighting up buildings, planting crocus corms, holding charity golf days, hosting world polio day dinners to name just a few.
In Banbury, schools have helped us raise major sums through the children’s concerts. All recent donations to the Rotary “End Polio Now” campaign have been matched 2 for 1 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Thanks to everyone who has helped us in our efforts raise awareness of the disease and contribute financially to its final permanent eradication.