Rotary sponsors walk to help eradicate polio worldwide
Belfast — To raise awareness and critically needed funds to fight the paralyzing disease polio, the Belfast Rotary Club will hold an “End Polio Now Community Walk” Saturday, Oct. 22, starting at 9 a.m. at the Belfast Shrine Club, rain or shine.
The walk will be 3.4 miles along the waterfront and through downtown Belfast. Pledges and donations are being taken by any Belfast Rotary Club member. Pledge forms may be found on the Belfast Rotary website at belfastrotary.org.
Polio could become only the second human disease to be eradicated, after smallpox. Case numbers of the disease have never been lower, Belfast Rotary said in a news release, and only two countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan) have never stopped transmission of the wild polio virus. In the past four months, Nigeria has reported three wild cases and has declared a state of emergency.
However, a funding gap puts this historic progress at risk, the release states. Experts say an additional $1.5 billion is urgently needed to ensure the world capitalizes on recent gains against polio and ends this disease for good.
In 1988, when Rotary and its partners committed to eradicating the disease, polio paralyzed more than 350,000 children per year in 125 countries — or, more than 1,000 children per day. Since that time, the number of polio cases has been reduced by 99.9 percent, with 25 cases in three countries to date in 2016.
Rotary has contributed more than $1.5 billion to ending polio, including over $5,000 contributed by the Rotary Club of Belfast over the past three years.
Funds contributed to Rotary are tripled thanks to a 2:1 match by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Rotary is joined in the fight to end polio by its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a public-private partnership that also includes the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
For further information and to donate, visit belfastrotary.org.
Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges.
Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. Visit rotary.org and endpolio.org for more about Rotary and its efforts to eradicate polio.