Thornbury Rotary – End Polio Now Campaign

August 23 2018
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Thornbury Rotary has acquired an amazing display that is used to help raise the awareness of Polio as part of Rotary’s ‘End Polio Now’ Campaign.

 The display consists of a working replica of one of the original Iron Lungs that was used to enable people to breathe on their own, when muscle control was lost or deficient as a result of poliomyelitis (the polio virus).

Polio is a highly infectious disease that most commonly affects children under the age of 5. It can attack the nervous system and, in some instances, leads to paralysis. Although there is no cure, there is a safe and effective vaccine. The eradication of polio is one of Rotary International’s longest standing and most significant efforts. Along with its partners, Rotary has helped to immunise more than 2.5 billion children against polio in 122 countries. Polio cases since 1988 have reduced by 99.9% worldwide, but until polio is completely eradicated, every child is potentially at risk.

Rotary, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988. In 2007, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined Rotary in its commitment to ending polio. Since 2013, the Gates Foundation has donated $2 for every $1 that Rotary has committed to eradication, up to $35 million per year.

Earlier this year, Thornbury Rotary displayed the Iron Lung outside Tesco. It attracted a lot of interest by all age groups. Visitors to the display included friends and relatives of people who had suffered from polio and been forced to use the Iron Lung in the 1940’s and 50’s. Some polio patients with paralysed lungs could spend a week or so inside the Iron Lung. There have been rare cases whereby patients have needed to use an iron lung for over 60 years.

The mobile display (with the Iron Lung built inside a trailer) will be available shortly to other Rotary Clubs in the South, further raising the awareness of Polio throughout the region. Interested clubs and organisations can contact Ben Bradley, International Chairman, Rotary Club of Thornbury: benjamin.bradley@btinternet.com.