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Canadian Rotarians help immunize nearly
one million children against polio in Cameroon



From:
Petina Dixon DixonP@rotaryintl.org
Date:
  Fri, 17 Jan 2003
To:
      Petina Dixon <DixonP@rotaryintl.org>
Subject:
 Canadian Rotarians help immunize nearly one million children against polio in Cameroon


* Canadian Rotarians help immunize nearly one million children against polio in Cameroon
* Dr. Carlos Canseco receives PAHO Public Health Hero of the Americas

Award

Canadian Rotary Members Help Immunize Nearly 1 Million Children  Against Polio in Cameroon Part of Rotary's Global Effort to Eradicate Polio Worldwide by 2005 Ontario, Canada - As polio still threatens children in parts of Africa and  South Asia, Rotary has made eliminating this crippling disease its top priority. 

In support of this global endeavor, 32 Rotary club members from Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Alberta will depart Toronto for Cameroon on the evening of Saturday, 18 January and will return on Sunday, 27 January. While in Cameroon, the volunteers will help administer drops of oral  polio vaccine, assist parents in getting their children vaccinated, transport health workers, deliver the vaccine to health clinics and recruit fellow volunteers during Cameroon's polio immunization campaign on 21 January.

The goal will be to immunize children under the age of five against polio. 

Leading the group is Oakville, ON resident Barry Howie. "We are proud to be part of this historic effort to rid the world of a crippling disease that  has impacted millions of lives throughout the centuries," said Howie. "Regardless of current world challenges, we must remain diligent in our efforts  to ensure that every child is protected against this tragic and preventable disease."

A highly infectious disease, polio can cause paralysis and sometimes death.  As there is no cure for polio, the best protection is prevention.  For as little as US .50 cents worth of vaccine, a child can be protected against  this crippling disease for life. 

Great strides have been made in polio eradication, especially in Cameroon where 0 cases of polio have been reported since 2000.  When Rotary began its polio immunization program in the mid 1980s, approximately 1,000 children  were infected by this crippling disease every day.  Last year only 483 cases of polio were reported in 10 countries, down from the 350,000 cases estimated in 125 countries in 1988.  At the end of 2002, seven countries remain  endemic.  These are: Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia.

As part of its efforts to end polio worldwide, Rotary has contributed US$182 million to eradicate polio throughout the African continent and committed over US$500 million worldwide.                                                

In order to eradicate polio by 2005, every child must be reached. Gaining access to children in areas of civil unrest and upholding political commitment despite the decline of the disease are the major challenges to a polio-free world.  Most critically, a funding shortfall of US$275 million is the greatest threat to polio eradication, according to the World Health Organization.

To help meet this funding challenge, Rotary members worldwide have embarked on a major campaign to raise US$80 million by 2003.  Rotary will also continue to reach out to governments worldwide to obtain vital financial and technical support.                                                                                                       

In addition to raising funds, over one million men and women of Rotary have contributed both time and personal resources to immunize more than 2 billion children in 122 countries. 

Bhichai Rattakul, President of Rotary International, noted that volunteer efforts are an integral part of Rotary's campaign against polio. "The dedication shown by Rotary members is not only inspiring, but it is also a fundamental component of our fight against polio," said Rattakul. "Thanks to the  dedication of Rotary volunteers worldwide, soon there will be one less threat against the children of the world."

In 1985, Rotary International served as the catalyst for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative by setting the goal to immunize all the world's children against the disease by Rotary's 100th anniversary in 2005.   Rotary is the lead private sector and volunteer arm of this global partnership.  

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).

Rotary International President Dr. Carlos Canseco (1984-85) Receives  PAHO Public Health Hero of the Americas Award  Washington DC -- In recognition of his role in establishing Rotary International as the catalyst to eradicate polio from the Western Hemisphere, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has presented Dr. Carlos Canseco of  Monterrey, Mexico with the Public Health Hero of the Americas Award.

This one-time award is part of PAHO's centennial celebration, and recognizes eleven individuals who have made invaluable contributions to public health in the Americas.

While President of Rotary International in 1984-85, Dr. Canseco worked with Dr. Albert Sabin, the inventor of oral polio vaccine, to establish Rotary's PolioPlus program, which aims to immunize the children of the world against polio by 2005 - Rotary's centennial anniversary.

As a result, Rotary, in partnership with PAHO, contributed US$38.5 million in PolioPlus funds and countless volunteer hours to the national immunization programs in 27 countries in South and Central America and the Caribbean.

A funding shortfall of US$275 million is the greatest threat to polio eradication, according to the World Health Organization. To help meet this funding challenge, Rotary members worldwide have embarked on a major campaign to raise an additional US$80 million by 2003. 

Rotary is the lead private contributor and volunteer arm of a global partnership dedicated to eradicating polio by 2005.  To date, Rotary has committed more than US$500 million to the protection of more than 2 billion children in 122 countries.  

PAHO, which was founded in 1902, works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and raise the living standards of their peoples. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization.

_ . _

For further information visit www.rotary.info <http://www.rotary.info>, www.rotary.org <http://www.rotary.org> or www.polioeradication.org <http://www.polioeradication.org>.

ROTARY AN ORGANIZATION OF BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL LEADERS * UNITED WORLDWIDE 1.2 MILLION PEOPLE * 164 COUNTRIES * PROVIDING HUMANITARIAN SERVICE * BUILDING GOODWILL AND PEACE IN THE WORLD

Rotary, more information, please visit: www.rotary.org.

   
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