Algarve walkers support fight against polio

Despite heavy rain, 47 people in the Algarve set out on Saturday to walk in support of Rotary International’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Following a major global health milestone last month, Almancil International Rotary Club (AIRC) invited the local community to join them in the global fight to eradicate polio by walking 5km along the Ria Formosa in recognition of World Polio Day (October 24). The club was the only Rotary club in Portugal to participate in support of the event which raised €260.

The walk came at an important time in the fight to eradicate polio, which would be only the second human disease to be eradicated after smallpox.

In September, the World Health Organisation declared Africa’s last polio-endemic country, Nigeria, polio-free, leaving only two countries which have never stopped the virus: Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In 1988, when Rotary and its partners committed to eradicating the disease, polio paralysed more than 350,000 children per year in 125 countries – or, more than 1,000 per day.

Since that time, the number of polio cases has been reduced by 99.9%, with less than 50 cases in two countries to date in 2015.

Rotary International’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a public-private partnership that also includes the World Health Organisation, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Rotary International has contributed more than $1.4 billion to ending polio, including approximately €5,000 contributed over the last five years by AIRC. Such funds, when contributed to Rotary International, are tripled thanks to a 2:1 match by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.