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Rotary Happenings: Oct. 24 marked World Health Day for Rotary International
November 7, 2018

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Oct. 24, or World Health Day, marked a very important day for Rotary International and the World Health Organization. On this date, they commemorate the birthday of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis or polio. Use of the inactivated vaccine and subsequent widespread use of oral poliovirus, developed by Albert Sabin, led to the establishment of Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988. Currently, 99.9 percent of polio has been eradicated.

Without the eradication efforts of Rotary since 1979, over 17 million healthy people would have been paralyzed with polio. Rotary and its global partners have used the vaccine to immunize over 2.5 billion children worldwide. For 39 years, Rotarians have led the attack on eradicating the virus. Although there is no cure, the vaccine has stopped the spread of the highly infectious disease, which most commonly affected children under the age of 5.

A PolioPlus campaign to raise money for the cause was launched in 1985 by Rotary. It was the first and largest internationally-coordinated private-sector support of a public health initiative, with an initial fundraising target of $120 million for polio eradication. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joined Rotary in 2007 in the eradication initiative and has triple matched donations. The foundation alone has contributed over $1.6 billion to end polio.

As of 2018, there were only 18 new polio cases reported throughout the world. The number was lower a few years ago, but it has been difficult to deliver the vaccine to remote and dangerous parts of the world. Rotarians continue their immunization mission because, "It is essential that we maintain the momentum for the complete eradication of polio in the world. We are very very close, but until every country is certified polio free and there are no more new cases of wild polio, there remains the real danger that it can come roaring back."

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club has many exciting plans on the table for its annual Arts & Crafts Fair on Feb. 16-17, including 129-plus artists, a silent auction, food court with seating and more. Thanks to an exit survey done by Rotarian Joleen Raho at last year's event, the club will take into account some of the suggestions and comments from attendees and try and improve the experience. It is a great fair, but the club can always strive to make it better.

The club's Youth Exchange Student from Taiwan will change host families in a few weeks. Exchange students visit for one school year and are usually hosted by at least two families to allow them a broader perspective of life in the United States. In addition, the club's new Interact Club at The Sanibel School will start soon and students may get a chance to join the club at its "Meals of Hope" meal packing event on Nov. 10. Rotary International's World Interact Week is Nov. 5-11.

The club will feature the following guest speakers:

- Nov. 16: Roxanne Dyer, executive director of the Guardian Ad Litem Foundation

For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary. The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are welcome to attend.

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