The Rotary Club of Abergavenny is one of hundreds of Rotary clubs and community groups across Great Britain and Ireland planting more Purple4Polio crocus corms to highlight the work of Rotary and its partners globally to End Polio Now and forever writes Robert Parker, President of Abergavenny Rotary Club.
On Sunday,October 16, five members of the Rotary Club planted another 4,000 Purple for Polio Crocus Corms on the Waitrose roundabout at Llanfoist. This is the third year running the Club has planted crocus corms at this site and there will be a truly spectacular display of colour on the roundabout in March 2023.
Both Polio and COVID-19 are the only two viruses currently classified by the World Health Organisation as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. We all now understand only too well that a virus can literally be just a plane ride away. Thankfully the Poliovirus vaccine has been used successfully for many years and we continue to need to reach every last child.
As a result of Rotary’s dream of a polio free world the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched in 1988. Then there were 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries. In 2021, the wild poliovirus is circulating in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the good news is that there has only been one case of wild polio in each of those countries. Cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus are also much lower this year compared to the same time last year.
Even though there are low numbers of reported cases, every year we still need to immunise at least 400 million children, several times, to maintain high population immunity, provide stipends and support for hundreds of thousands of frontline health care workers who vaccinate children, educate communities about the benefits of vaccination, and intensify disease surveillance systems to detect the poliovirus in people and the environment as the poliovirus can live in sewage water for a short period of time.
If we stop now estimates are that within 10 years, we could be seeing over 200,000 cases of polio annually across the globe.
The extensive and sustained global effort by Rotary and its partners in the GPEI to rid the world of polio virus has continued throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. In many countries the personnel, expertise and infrastructure of the Polio programme has been vital in Covid-19 response and recovery, including the surveillance and laboratory network.
We are proud that Rotary, with our partners, and the polio programme is playing such a vital part in the COVID-19 response in many countries. Just as that response requires worldwide solidarity, we need everyone’s help to raise money for and awareness of the ongoing critical work for a polio-free world.
Here in Abergavenny and across Great Britain and Ireland Rotary members
are planting more crocus to add to the millions that already bloom in these islands each spring to highlight the Rotary End Polio Now campaign. Every £1 we raise is matched 2:1 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, so becomes £3.
Robert Parker, Club President said, “We’re really excited to be getting involved once again in the planting of thousands of Purple4Polio crocus corms here in Abergavenny.”
Polio is a deadly disease mainly affecting children under the age of 5 and can cause paralysis and even death.
As the organisation that first envisioned a polio-free world, Rotary has been at the centre of the fight to eradicate polio for more than three decades. Nearly 3 billion children have received polio vaccine. This means there are nearly 19 million people who would otherwise have been paralysed who are walking today, and more than 1.5 million people are alive who would otherwise have died. Without full funding, political commitment and volunteer-led social action, there is a real threat that polio could return, putting children worldwide at risk.
If you would like to donate to the End Polio Now campaign go to endpol.io/give