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Rotary Members Worldwide Prepare For Mass Immunization Campaigns In Polio-Endemic Countries
Date:2/3/2009

Volunteers play a critical role in world's largest global health endeavor

EVANSTON, Ill., Feb. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the coming months, hundreds of Rotary club members from the United States, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Korea, the United Kingdom and the Caribbean will join thousands of their fellow Rotary members, other volunteers and health workers to immunize children against polio in India and Nigeria.

Through Rotary International, the fight against this crippling disease has been largely volunteer-driven. Never before has the influence of the private sector played such a critical role in a global public health effort.

"Rotary International is the top private sector contributor and volunteer arm of the eradication initiative," says Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization. "The 1.2 million Rotarians envisioned a polio-free world, and then challenged governments and health agencies to pursue this vision."

Overall, great progress has been made in the effort to end polio. In the two decades since Rotary and its global partners launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, cases worldwide have decreased by 99 percent. The disease remains endemic in just four countries -- Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan -- although other countries remain at risk for imported cases.

Rotary members are doing everything in their power to ensure success during this final phase. Polio survivor Ann Lee Hussey, who will lead a group to Nigeria for immunization activities in March, has volunteered for immunization drives in a half-dozen countries. "I don't want any child, anywhere, to go through the suffering that I and thousands of other children experienced," she says. "Polio is a preventable disease and we have the tools to eradicate it right now."

Rotary's commitment to end polio represents
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SOURCE Rotary International
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