Rotary celebrates decades of service

Rotary International is on the front lines of the fight against polio

As president of Kalamalka Rotary, I would like to congratulate the Rotary Club of Vernon as it celebrates 90 years of service in Vernon.

Vernon is fortunate to have a total of three Rotary clubs thanks to the good work the Rotary Club of Vernon started back in 1925.

These clubs include the Vernon Silver Star Rotary Club, the Kalamalka Rotary Club and the Rotary Club of Vernon. Our clubs meet weekly to enjoy fellowship and the opportunity to help others less fortunate than us in what we call service above self.

One of Rotary’s goals is disease prevention and treatment.

Last year’s spike in polio cases in Pakistan and outbreaks in Africa and the Middle East, the worst-ever epidemic of the Ebola virus, and flare-ups of West Nile virus, measles, and whooping cough in the U.S. are all vivid reminders of the threat posed by infectious diseases to people everywhere in this global age.

Rotary International is on the front lines of the fight against polio, a vaccine-preventable disease that still cripples and sometimes kills people who aren’t immunized.

Rotary, which celebrated its 110th anniversary Feb. 23, is the volunteer arm of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a partnership that includes the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The effort is on the brink of making polio only the second human disease ever to be eradicated, after smallpox.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of Rotary’s PolioPlus program – the catalyst for the GPEI’s creation in 1988.

Polio afflicted more than 350,000 people each year in the 1980s. Since then, the number of polio cases has decreased by 99 percent. In 2014, just 358 cases were reported worldwide, and the GPEI celebrated the eradication of polio in Southeast Asia, including India, once the global epicenter of the disease. Also, the number of cases in all of Africa dropped by nearly 90 percent.

Today, the disease remains endemic is only three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.

Through PolioPlus, Rotary has helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children against polio and contributed more than $1.3 billion in support, along with securing over $10 billion from donor governments.

Most recently, in January, Rotary announced grants of $34.8 million to support polio eradication efforts in 10 countries.And through the 2013-18 End Polio Now: Make History Today Campaign, every dollar Rotary contributes to polio eradication will be matched 2-to-1 (up to $35 million per year) by the Gates Foundation.

Many of Rotary’s 1.2 million members in 34,000 clubs also join health workers in polio-affected countries to immunize children against polio, along with raising funding support and awareness of the disease.

“We are encouraged to see the tangible progress made against polio in 2014,” said Mike McGovern, chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee.

“However, until we eliminate polio from its final reservoirs, children everywhere are at risk from this disease. Rotary – along with our partners – will work hard to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable children are kept safe from polio.”

Greg MacKinnon,

president, Kalamalka Rotary


Vernon Morning Star