Rotary helps Africa eradicate polio

ALL IN: Rotary presidents Julie Irwin (Victor), Madeleine Jenkins (Encounter Bay) and Wendy Lippett (Goolwa).
ALL IN: Rotary presidents Julie Irwin (Victor), Madeleine Jenkins (Encounter Bay) and Wendy Lippett (Goolwa).

The African region has just been certified wild poliovirus-free. It has been an ongoing mission of Rotary to rid Africa of polio.

Rotary members have played an invaluable role in the effort to rid the African region of wild polio.

Rotary Club of Victor Harbor president Julie Irwin said Rotary was proud of all the hard work that had been done to eliminate the wild poliovirus throughout Africa and in nearly every country in the world.

"With the knowledge and learning gained from the fight against polio, this knowledge should help to find a solution to COVID-19," Julie said.

"A lot can be learnt from what Rotary has achieved through the eradication of polio in Africa."

The progress in the fight against polio is the result of a decades-long effort across the 47 countries of the African region.

It has involved millions of health workers traveling by foot, boat, bike and bus, innovative strategies to vaccinate children amid conflict and insecurity and a huge disease surveillance network to test cases of paralysis and check sewage for the virus.

Over the last two decades, countless Rotary members in countries across the African region and around the world have worked together to raise funds, immunise children, advocate with local and national leaders and raise awareness about the importance of vaccination, enabling the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to effectively respond to and stop polio outbreaks.

Rotary Club of Encounter Bay president Madeleine Jenkins said the milestone was an incredible public health achievement for Rotary members, the African region and a huge step forward on the road to global polio eradication.

"We have faced many challenges in our journey to eradicate polio. But we've made remarkable progress and the polio infrastructure that Rotarians helped build will serve as a lasting legacy that will continue to help protect vulnerable children against other diseases for decades to come," Madeleine said.

Rotary Club of Goolwa president Wendy Lippett said Rotary would not rest and would hold an End Polio Relay in December, which would include all three Rotary clubs on the south coast.

"This will be a fundraising initiative and the Rotary Club of Goolwa is very proud to be associated with the eradication of polio in Africa," Wendy said.

"The eradication of wild polio in the African region shows us that polio eradication is achievable and shows how our hard work, partnerships and financial commitment continue to propel us forward, even during a global pandemic."

The three south coast Rotary presidents meet monthly and have formed a bond so the three clubs can work collaboratively to benefit the communities.

In 2021 Rotary will celebrate 100 years of its foundation and an exciting major event is being planned by the presidents and their respective clubs.