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Committing Polio to History

Rotary's Worldwide Success in Eliminating Polio Clears the Way for New Humanitarian Initiatives in Indonesia

(11/11/2012) Since 1985, Rotary International has been engage in a worldwide effort to eradicate polio. Due in large part to the dedicated efforts of Rotarians to deliver police vaccinations to even the most remote villages across Indonesian and around the world, a disease that once killed and maimed children in great numbers is now an increasingly rare illness.

Working together with The World Health Organization, Rotarians are working to track down the last vestiges of the disease in countries such as Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Joining this commendable community-based effort, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated US$365 million to Rotary International in recognition of the efficacy of their efforts to make polio a disease of the past.

As the results of a program commenced in concert with Rotary in1985, polio has been eradicated in Indonesia. According to data from the Indonesian Ministry of Health, no new cases of polio have been recorded in Indonesia since 2007.

Because of this, the District Governor of Rotary District 340 that encompasses Indonesia, Panudiana Kuhn, told Bali Post that on October 28, 2012, Indonesia will be granted a “polio free” certification by an international review board during a visit to Bali.

Because of Rotary’s success in combating polio, Rotary Indonesia is now turning its attention to other social and humanitarian projects. Rotarians across Indonesia are active in post-tsunami reconstruction efforts in Aceh, clean air supplies, cataract operations, cleft palate operations, combating thalasemia and HIV/AIDS treatment.

Among the more well known projects sponsored by Rotary in Bali are the modern Blood Bank in operation at Bali’s Sanglah Hospital and a clean water project in Karangasem, East Bali. “We also distribute free eye glasses, provide cataract operations, provide libraries to schools and mobile clinics for the treatment of the island’s women,” explained Kuhn.

Worldwide, Rotary has more than 3,400 clubs and 1.2 million members spread across 534 districts.