Local Rotarians help Africa region to be declared wild polio-free

The Rotary Club's Purple Crocus Garden. Picture Chris Carson

The Rotary Club's Purple Crocus Garden. Picture Chris Carson - Credit: Archant

Lyme Regis Rotary Club has played a role in a significant global public health achievement, as the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Africa region has officially been certified wild polio-free.

Polio is a debilitating disease mainly affecting children, which can cause paralysis and even death.

This incredible milestone is the result of decades of effort from Rotary clubs and volunteers around the globe who have fundraised, campaigned and worked tirelessly since Rotary pledged to rid the world of polio more than 30 years ago.

The Rotary Club of Lyme Regis have played their part by organising a number of events over some years to raise awareness and funds for the Rotary International Polio Plus appeal .

A major contribution to this effort has been made by our own Mark Tredwin who has raced his ‘Purple for Polio car around the country, as well as appearing at many both national and local events. Members also planted with the support of the town council our ‘ Purple Crocus Garden’ in Langmoor gardens.

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The certification comes four years after Nigeria, the last polio-endemic country in Africa, recorded its final case of wild polio and now means of the WHO’s six regions, five of those – accounting for 90% of the world’s population – are free from polio.

Globally, more than 2.5 billion children have been protected against the disease, which have reduced the number of cases by 99.9per cent from around 1,000 cases per day in 125 countries.

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Peter Fortnam said, “This is a terrific landmark in the world’s battle to eradicate polio. Although it has been many years since polio has been present in the UK and Ireland, we are proud to have contributed to the global efforts to eliminate the disease for good.

“We remain committed to making the final, challenging steps towards making a polio free world a reality.”

“If we don’t finish the job, it is estimated that, within 10 years, as many as 200,000 children annually all over the world could succumb to polio, including here in the UK. The virus can literally be a plane ride away so vaccination is so important.”

Despite this significant milestone being reached, the job to fully rid the world of polio goes on, as the virus continues to circulate in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

To sustain this progress, vaccination programmes must continue to protect every last child and strengthen routine immunisation to keep immunity levels high, so the virus does not return to Africa or other parts of the world, including the UK.

Rotary has directly contributed more than US$2 billion to ending polio since 1985.

Every pound we now raise is matched 2:1 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

To get involved in Rotary and make a difference in your community and around the world, visit


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