At the 2018 Rotary International Convention in Toronto, Rotary District 5340 was recognized for its work in supporting efforts to end polio.
Since 1985, Rotary has led the battle against polio, keeping on the pressure as worldwide cases plummeted from 350,000 per year to several dozen. Rotarians have helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children against polio in 122 countries. When India went off the list of endemic countries in 2012, we took one more step toward eradicating a human disease from the earth for only the second time in history. Now, Rotary and partners like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization are close to making that dream a reality.
During 2017-18, Rotary members from across District 5340 officially donated over $1 million to PolioPlus, ranking the District in the Top 10 Districts for Giving. This resulted in average giving in excess of $300 per member. When matching funds are added to the total, the generosity of Rotarians from District 5340 resulted in over $3 million to help fund the fight against polio.
"The global fight against polio continues, and our Rotary members truly stepped up to the plate," said District Governor Scott Carr. "Thanks to the generosity of our members, and the efforts of Past RI President John Germ and Past Rotary Foundation Trustee Stephen Brown, we reached a significant milestone. With every dollar being matched 2-for-1 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the global fight on polio, this is an incredible achievement, one that the members of our District should be incredibly proud of."
District Governor Carr joined other governors from across the world on stage as the totals were officially announced on stage at the Air Canada Centre during the second day of the RI Convention in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
But the fight against polio is far from over.
Compared to 2017, the number of Circulating Vaccine Derived Poliovirus Cases (cVDPV) is nearly half, while the number of Wild Poliovirus Cases (WPV) has nearly doubled. As of June 26, 2018, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative reports 11 new cases of polio in the wild, with a sharp spike in polio cases reported in Afghanistan.
"While it is no longer striking thousands of children every year, polio is still hanging on," added Carr, "and we need to continue supporting the global efforts to ensure new polio cases hit the zero mark. Thank you for your commitment and your financial support to ensuring polio gets wiped out for good."