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Local Rotarians fight polio

Submitted by on 1, March 11, 2009 – 6:45 amNo Comment

Our local Rotarians are doing their part to help eradicate a disease that doesn’t garner much in the way of headlines these days: Polio. They’re part of an international Rotary campaign to raise $200 million to help fight the disease.

“It seems like it’s possible to eradicate this disease,” Lizette Weiss, the local Rotary’s Polio Plus chair, said of the club’s efforts. So far, she said, the club has raised thousands of dollars in its effort, she said.

Weiss said that Rotary International, the parent of all the world’s local Rotary clubs, started its work on polio in 1985. Even though polio has all but been eradicated in the U.S., it continues to plague some countries, she said. But with vaccines available, Rotarians believe that eradicating the disease is in their grasp, she said.

The head of the World Health Organization told attendees at a Rotary International conference last spring that eradicating polio is the agency’s number one priority, Weiss said. If Rotary International can raise $200 million, they will receive another $355 million in challenge grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Two decades ago the disease, which paralyzes its victims, sickened 1,000 children a day, according to Rotary International. In 2008, fewer than 2,000 cases were reported.

If you are interested in helping Rotary out, you can send a check to: Polio Plus Campaign, P.O. Box 2403, Alameda, Calif. 94501.

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