Your role in beating a global scourge

p2163-polio-2By ERWIN CHLANDA
Buying a steak sandwich from a Rotary Club in Alice Springs may put you in the loop of a charity which is spanning the world, stamping out of one its great scourges.The $6 you pay can buy 10 polio vaccines.
Multiply this transaction by hundreds of millions over three decades and five continents and 1.2 million Rotary members, and you get a feeling of what big things growing from little ones is all about. After a campaign spearheaded by Rotary, the killer disease is all but extinguished.
It doesn’t get much bigger than this: The foundation of Microsoft’s Bill and Melinda Gates is tripling money raised by the service club, up to $35m a year for three years. That means the couple will be contributing up to $210m.
Tony Abbott’s government has pledged $100m over five years and the World Health Organisation, too, is providing massive funding.
It all started in 1978 with Rotary’s international president at the time, Queenslander Clem Renouf. The organisation was looking for a global service project.
p2163-Rotary=BBQThere were 1000 new polio cases every day. “Stop Polio” was the answer.
Last year, more than 30 years later, there were 122 new cases in Nigeria between January and June. In the same period this year there were just three.
Dr. Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh had developed the vaccine in 1952. Now – finally – it was time for it to get to the children who needed it. Rotary spearheaded the drive, says District governor for SA and the southern NT, John Campbell.
p2163-John-CampbellMr Campbell (pictured) was in Alice Springs last week to visit the three clubs here, with a combined membership of about 90. He is seeking $1500 donations from all clubs in Rotary District 9500 which takes in South Australia and the southern half of the Territory.
Only in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan is the disease still regarded as endemic. Some volunteers there providing the vaccines are risking their lives.
There is now less than one case per day being diagnosed anywhere in the world.
Rotary expects to consign polio to history by 2018.
PHOTOS: • Polio vaccine administered in a bus in Pakistan • Stuart Rotary Club members feeding the multitudes at the Old Timers Fete.


  1. Thank you Erwin for this informative article about the scourge of polio that is so very close to being relegated to the annals of history forever thanks to Rotary and its partners worldwide.
    So what can you, the reader, do to assist in eradicating this disease once and for all? Why not donate to the Rotary Foundation at – just follow the prompts!
    Also, why not consider joining Rotary and becoming involved in one of the three Rotary Clubs in Alice Springs? (As President of the Rotary Club of Stuart I am trying very hard not to show bias towards the Stuart Club so I will list the details of the Clubs in the order that they meet!) Visitors are welcome at all three clubs.
    The Rotary Club of Mbantua – Alice Springs is a breakfast club that meets on Monday mornings at 7am at Ibis Styles, Gap Road. Look them up on Facebook!
    The Rotary Club of Stuart – Alice Springs is a dinner club that meets on Tuesday nights at 6.15pm for 6.45pm at the Todd Tavern. Visit for more details.
    The Rotary Club of Alice Springs is also a dinner club that meets on Wednesday nights at 6.30pm for 7pm at the Alice in the Territory. Visit for further details.
    Meetings usually go for an hour to an hour and a half tops, including the meal time, so come along to a meeting and make some new friends and get involved in the community.
    One project I will make a quick mention of is “Soles for Souls” which is Julie Campbell’s project as wife of the District Governor, John Campbell.
    Julie is collecting new or slightly worn shoes for this project which will provide people who don’t have access to adequate footwear, particularly in poorer countries than ours, with something to protect their feet.
    If you would like to donate a pair of shoes and a gold coin donation, you can drop them off at the RSL Club who have kindly agreed to act as a collection point. Last day for drop off is Thursday, 18th December 2014.


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