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Local Rotary Clubs Contribute to Africa Region Being Declared Wild Polio-free

Polio Free Africa

Rotary Clubs in Crewe and Nantwich have played in role in a significant global public health achievement, as the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Africa region has officially been certified wild polio-free.

Polio is a debilitating disease mainly affecting children, which can cause paralysis and even death.

This incredible milestone is the result of decades of effort from Rotary clubs and volunteers around the world, who have fundraised, campaigned and worked tirelessly since Rotary pledged to rid the world of polio more than 30 years ago.

The 5 Rotary Clubs in Crewe and Nantwich have played their part by and have contributed towards the End Polio Now campaign in the recent past through fundraising, making donations and by means of awareness-raising activities such as purple crocus planting, lighting buildings purple and ensuring that our MP has supported Early Day Motions in Parliament supporting polio immunisation campaigns. The Rotary Clubs will be undertaking  further activities for World Polio Day on 24th October.

The certification comes four years after Nigeria, the last polio-endemic country in Africa, recorded its final case of wild polio and now means of the WHO’s six regions, five of those – accounting for 90% of the world’s population – are free from polio.

Globally, more than 2.5 billion children have been protected against the disease, which have reduced the number of cases by 99.9% from around 1,000 cases per day in 125 countries.

Rotarian Diane Yates said, “This is a terrific landmark in the world’s battle to eradicate polio. Although it has been many years since polio has been present in the UK and Ireland, we are proud to have contributed to the global efforts to eliminate the disease for good.

We remain committed to making the final, challenging steps towards making a polio free world a reality but if we don’t finish the job, it is estimated that, within 10 years, as many as 200,000 children annually all over the world could succumb to polio, including here in the UK. The virus can literally be a plane ride away so vaccination is so important.”

Despite this significant milestone being reached, the job to fully rid the world of polio goes on, as the virus continues to circulate in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In order to sustain this progress, vaccination programmes must continue to protect every last child and strengthen routine immunisation to keep immunity levels high, so the virus does not return to Africa or other parts of the world, including the UK.

Rotary International has directly contributed more than US$2 billion to ending polio since 1985.