Staff Report

On October 24, Solvang Rotary and other clubs around the world observed the sixth annual World Polio Day. The Solvang City Council issued a proclamation Oct. 22 recognizing the club for its fundraising efforts towards the international PolioPlus Campaign.

On Oct. 26, New Frontiers Natural Marketplace held a 5 Percent Friday to benefit the campaign as well.

Rotary International launched its Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1985 to eradicate polio. Polio is a virus that spreads by person to person contact, typically through contaminated water. It can attack the nervous system, and in some instances leads to paralysis. Polio mainly affects children under the age of five.

Partners in the eradication effort include Rotary, the World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Although cases are down by 99.9 percent, if the global campaign ceases because of lack of funds, it would take less than 10 years for polio to return to pandemic levels. As many as 200,000 new cases of polio each year would exist in countries that have long been free of the disease. It is estimated that a polio-free world will save the global economy $40 billion to $50 billion in healthcare costs in the next 20 years.

For the next three years, the Gates Foundation will match every dollar that Rotary commits to polio eradication with another two dollars, up to $50 million per year. For example, a donation of $25 to Rotary will result in a $75 contribution.

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