PolioPlus online project garners $3.3 million

The Southern Rensselaer County club, as most of you know, participated in the recent Rotary Foundation fundraising project in which it offered — for the first time — double Paul Harris Fellow recognition points for online-only contributions of $100 or more during the one-week period during which World Polio Day was marked.

Globally, the effort raised $3.3 million was raised in online contributions for PolioPlus. By comparison, $660,000 was raised online through the first nine months of this year.

As of November 9, Rotarians have raised about $152 million for Rotary’s $200 Million Challenge. These contributions will help Rotary raise $200 million to match $355 million in challenge grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The resulting $555 million will directly support immunization campaigns in developing countries where polio continues to infect and paralyze children, robbing them of their futures and compounding the hardships faced by their families.

Meanwhile, in the Congo …

Rotary International and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative — the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — are responding to a recent outbreak of wild poliovirus in the Republic of the Congo. Rotary is providing a total of $500,000 in emergency grants to WHO and UNICEF for immediate polio immunization efforts throughout the country.

At least 97 people have died in the outbreak, with 226 cases of acute flaccid paralysis reported as of November 9. Most of the cases involve young people between ages 15 and 29. To date, four of the AFP cases have been confirmed as polio.

The outbreak is due to imported poliovirus related to the virus circulating in Angola. The Congo Republic recorded its last case of indigenous polio in 2000, and urgent action is required by government and partner agencies to again make the country polio-free.

“Polio outbreaks highlight our global vulnerability to infectious disease,” says Dr. Robert Scott, chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee. “It reinforces the fact that polio ‘control’ is not an option, and only successful eradication will stop the disease.”

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