Once a worldwide scourge, Polio is now very close to complete eradication.  From 350,000 cases worldwide in 1988 to only 37 in all of 2016 (so far) is a staggering 99.9% reduction.  But we can't quit now. 
To join in the final push to completely eradicate polio from the planet, The Rotary Club of Yonkers-East Yonkers partnered with VOOP - Voices of Overseas Pakistanis - to raise funds to be channeled through the Rotary Foundation's End Polio Now campaign.  The event - part of the "Have Fun Do Good" efforts - was on Sunday 4, December at the Royal Palace Restaurant on Knollwood Road, White Plains.  This was not just a fund-raiser - it was an evening of music, comedy and dancing with of course, delicious cuisine - and an auction.  Present in addition to VOOP and Yonkers Rotary members were current Rotary District Governor Lora Hugelmeyer and past District Governors Janet Beneditto, Matts Ingemanson and Assistant Governor Mary Shackleton.  Among attendees were local business owners, physicians, bankers, Real Estate professionals.
The evening began with the President of VOOP, introducing the Rotary Club as their partner in the event.  Club President Mahbub Ahmad thanked all those joining in the effort  and explained the background of Rotary.  He told the audience that all funds raised and sent through Rotary International Foundation's End-Polio Program would have triple impact because the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would match every dollar 2 to 1.  He screened a video "Why Zero Matters" which showed that the effort to end polio must not be abandoned even though there are only 37 polio cases in the world this year down from 350,000 cases in 1988.  Should the virus not be completely eradicated, and immunization efforts not be continued, the danger of a reversal is very real.  According to the World Health Organization, there could be as many as 200,000 polio cases in just 10 years from now.
Rotary District Governor Lora Hugelmeyer thanked the organizers and said we cannot quit now because "we are this close".  She said the local Rotary district over the years, has contributed over a million dollars to the end-polio effort.  She presented Rotary Pens to the Presidents of VOOP and Yonkers Rotary as well as Club End Polio Committee Chair Shahid Latif.  Latif talked about the importance of peace in the world and the efforts of Rotary.
The campaign to end polio began with the initiative of a Rotary Club in The Philippines in 1972.  After its great success the program was replicated across the country and later in other countries.  The push from Rotary and its 1.2 million worldwide members sustained the campaign when through the participation of UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the campaign gathered steam to reach its current stage.
  • Polio remains endemic in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan, but has reappeared in Nigeria this year.
  • The annual number of polio cases has been slashed 99% over the last 25 years.
  • The campaign against polio has prevented 15 million childhood disabilities since 1988.
  • Infant and childhood vaccinations save an estimated 3 million lives every year.
  • A donation of $25 can vaccinate 42 children against polio.
  • UNICEF buys 1.7 billion doses of oral polio vaccine to reach 500 million children every year.
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