Thirty years ago Rotary International started the long journey to wipe the crippling disease of Polio from the planet. This was no mean undertaking since only one disease had ever been eradicated globally in world history that being smallpox in 1980. Now 35 years later Rotary and its partners, the Word Health Organisation, UNESCO, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many of the world's Governments, are "This Close" to eradicating polio from the face of the earth.
Last year, fewer than 400 cases were reported worldwide, down from about 350,000 a year when the campaign began in 1988. Today, polio remains endemic in only three countries, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, although the virus can re-emerge in areas where it was previously halted, including Israel, where it returned briefly in 2013.
There are polio survivors in the Cayman Islands and throughout our region and due to our highly transient population we remain at risk from a resurgence of this crippling disease. The Rotary and Rotaract Clubs of the Cayman Islands are doing their bit to ensure this doesn't happen by raising funds weekly to support the final push to End Polio once and for all, as are many well-known celebtities and global figures through Rotary's highly visible "This Close" campaign.
IRG, owned by a Rotarian, are doing their bit too, having contributed annually to the Rotary Foundation and End Polio Campaign for many years. There have been no cases in Nigeria for the last 11 months at the time of writing and as such Africa really is "This Close" to being Polio Free. If Rotary can keep on track and donations keep coming in we could well be celebrating a Polio-Free world by 2018.
If you'd like to help this happen, you can sign the petition to the World's leaders to continue to provide the funding necessary to make history or make history yourself by donating at http://www.endpolio.org/. Alternatively asking a Caymanian Rotarian if you can donate via their club.