Kelowna, Penticton Rotary clubs work to eradicate polio

On World Polio Day, Kelowna Ogopogo Rotary Club members were out trying to raise awareness about the importance of eradicating the disease. Courtesy: Chris Jones

The Penticton and Kelowna Rotary clubs are working to raise funds to help eradicate polio worldwide.

Oct. 24 is World Polio Day.

“Polio has been with us for a long time,” Sandra Henderson, a spokesperson for the Penticton Sunrise Rotary Club, said in a news release.

“Those old enough will recall getting vaccinations on a sugar cube and other methods at school in the 1950s and 1960s. You will also remember the ‘iron lung’ machine used to support patients unfortunate enough to contract polio.”

Read more: ‘These diseases are now vaccine-preventable’: the parallels between polio and COVID-19

Henderson said the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has matched Rotary International’s financial support for its polio program since the early 1980s.

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“Vaccinations with the monetary support have resulted in a decline in polio plus program to only two reported cases in 2021,” Henderson said.

“All current cases are in the Afghanistan/Pakistan regions. Africa, for example, has been polio-free for a few years now.”

According to Rotary International, the Canadian federal government has invested nearly $1 billion to eradicate the disease.

Read more: A polio disaster helped shape vaccine safety. Here’s why that matters for the coronavirus

“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the polio infrastructure Canada helped build has been used to respond to COVID-19,” Rotary International said on its website.

“Polio eradication assets including disease surveillance, data management, risk communication, community mobilization, and coordination structures have been utilized in at least 55 countries.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 parallels: polio disaster helped shape vaccine safety in 1950s'
COVID-19 parallels: polio disaster helped shape vaccine safety in 1950s

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