Thursday, October 23, 2014

World Polio Day 2014


World Polio Day is recognized every year in October. The date is a bit uncertain: some countries put it on October 28th which was Jonas Salk's birthday, while others have it on October 24th (or 18th) for no reason we've been able to figure out. In the U.S. we do it on the 24th and that's tomorrow.

Rotary International initiated the global polio eradication effort in 1985 and they are way deep in it. They've sunk over US$1.3 billion into this fight since they started it and they're absolutely determined to finish the job. In fact, Rotary was working on immunizing children all over the world before the World Health Organization (WHO) was. WHO didn't join Rotary's battle against polio until 1988. That's when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was established along with UNICEF and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation decided to start focusing on polio in 2007, but Rotary was in there at the very beginning and they'll be there at the end.

Rotary is hosting a livestream program that will broadcast on Friday, 24 October between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Chicago time (30.5 hours from when this post goes up). It will feature updates on the status of global polio eradication (only three countries haven't defeated it yet: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria), statements from Ziggy Marley and polio survivor Minda Dentler, and a song by Tessanne Chin (winner of the 5th season of The Voice). It will also offer suggestions for how your can support polio eradication. You can either watch it live as it happens or later as a recording at the same link. If you watch, know that I'm in the room somewhere behind the scenes, helping to put it all together.

You can help build awareness of the need for polio eradication by changing your Facebook photo to this avatar for the day. And here's a whole gallery of things you can post and tweet. Happy World Polio Day! It's a little hard to get the word "polio" out there when "Ebola" is being shouted so loudly, but polio is still a global health emergency (as declared by the WHO in May 2012) and we're on the way to taking care of it forever. Yes, polio still exists. No, nobody is completely safe from it until we wipe it out completely.

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