Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

October 29, 2013

Rotarians “this close” to eradicating polio worldwide

By Amanda Browning
Daily News

---- — GREENSBURG – The Greensburg Rotary Club met Monday for its regular weekly meeting at the Greensburg Country Club, where they discussed the organization’s progress in the fight to eradicate polio across the world, in addition to other Rotary business.

Diane Hart-Dawson announced the launch of one of the Rotary’s biggest annual fundraisers – poinsettia sales. The Rotary Club has sold the superior-quality plants each winter to raise funds for the county, for scholarships for local students and for other Rotary community-service projects. This winter will be the 17th year the Rotary has held the fundraiser. All poinsettias will come from Kruger-Maddux Greenhouse and will be available in five different varieties, at a cost of $10. For more information or to place an order, call 663-9622 and ask for Diane or email dianehd@dcfymca.org.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jeff Emsweller notified the group that Governor Mike Pence will be visiting Greensburg Nov. 4. Governor Pence will give a speech and lunch will be provided. Attendance for the event is reservation only and will cost $20. Anyone interested should contact the Chamber of Commerce to reserve a spot.

Emsweller also mentioned that he’d spoken with Oris Reece recently and learned that the community garden had a majority of the plots produce vegetables this year. Emsweller reported that the community garden will be up and running again in time for spring planting season.

Charlie Miller, from the Greenwood/Whiteriver Morning Rotary Club, was the guest speaker at Monday’s meeting. Miller spoke to the club about the Preemptive Love Coalition, an organization that provides lifesaving heart surgeries to Iraqi children. Miller reported that after war broke out, many people fled Iraq, including most of the doctors.

He said there isn’t a single, dedicated pediatric heart surgeon in Iraq currently, despite heart defects being the leading cause of death among Iraqi children. Each year, 11,000 Iraqi children are born with heart defects. Most of them are forced to seek treatment out of the country – if they can afford it. Those who cannot are doomed to suffer with no hope of relief.

The Preemptive Love Coalition takes team members into Iraq on “remedy missions,” which last two weeks and typically save the lives of 12-to-15 children, while providing more than 1,000 hours of training to local medical staff. The training for local medical providers empowers them to handle future cases and will eventually reduce the massive backlog of children with heart defects awaiting treatment. This allows for sustained improvement and will make a real difference over time, Miller stated.

Miller concluded his speech by stating his desire for Rotary District 6580 to sponsor one “remedy mission” to Iraq to save lives. According to Miller, in 2013, the Preemptive Love Coalition will save more than 300 children’s lives and provide more than 15,000 hours of additional training to medical staff.

Following Miller’s speech, the Rotary Club gathered for a photo, featuring them all motioning that Rotarians are “this close” to stamping out polio worldwide. The debilitating disease has paralyzed or killed millions of people the world over before a vaccine was developed by Jonas Salk in 1955. Other scientists have developed improved vaccines, leading up to the oral polio vaccine developed by Albert Sabin, which has been the only polio vaccine used since it was licensed in 1962.

Due to the efforts of Rotary International, the World Health Organization and UNICEF, enhanced vaccination efforts could soon lead to a global eradication of the viral disease. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Rotary International in support of efforts to eliminate polio. Currently, the foundation has extended their donation matching program to 2018. For each dollar of donations received, the foundation will donate three, making each dollar work three times as hard. For a mere sixty cents, a child can be protected from polio for life.

Twenty-five years ago, polio was still commonly found in 125 countries. In 2013, there are only three polio-endemic countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Less than 1,000 cases in the world are known and 99 percent of the world’s children are now protected.

The next few years could see history being made. If efforts continue as they have been, polio could become the second human disease to be eradicated worldwide. Smallpox was declared to be eradicated in 1979.

For more information about ways to assist in the Rotary Club’s effort to stamp out polio worldwide or for information about any Rotary Club event, please visit the Rotary’s website at http://www.greensburg-rotary.org.

Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004