Over 300 Rotarians, politicians, dignitaries and Rotary supporters congregated at the Sheraton Parkway in Richmond Hill to hear Rotary International President Gary Huang speak.  Huang spoke at length about Rotary’s effort to eradicate polio around the world.  But more importantly, he inspired hundreds of people to continue the struggle.  Regardless of how busy I am in the telecommunication field, it was important to make time for this.

In Richmond Hill, Gary Huang was very pleased to announce that there have been no new cases of polio reported in Africa for the last seven months!  We are hopeful that it may have been eradicated from the continent.

The struggle against polio is focussed on the last major centers in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Huang admits that “the situation in Pakistan is challenging”.  He challenged those in the room to help eradicate polio from the planet by 2018, the year that Rotary International will hold their worldwide conference in Toronto.

Polio crippled tens of thousands of Canadians until the vaccine was introduced. It used to be called “infantile paralysis” or “the crippler”; because it could permanently damage nerve cells that control muscles.  Since there is no cure for polio, prevention is very important.

With the help of the polio vaccine, there has not been polio in Canada for 20 years.  Worldwide, 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated against polio.  As a result, the incidence of polio infection has plunged from about 350,000 cases in 1988 to fewer than 350 in 2014.

The fight to end polio is led by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which includes Rotary International, UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and governments of the world, with the support of many others around the globe.

Rotary brings together a global network of volunteers who dedicate their time and talent to tackle the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members from 200 countries and geographical regions. Their work impacts lives both at the local and international levels, from helping families in need, right here in southern Ontario, to working toward a polio-free world.

Rotarians are neighbors, friends, and community leaders who come together to create positive, lasting change in our communities and around the world.  With differing occupations, cultures, and countries, Rotarians are given a unique perspective. Their shared passion for service helps Rotarians accomplish the remarkable.  For more information on Rotary in Richmond Hill, go to www.richmondhillrotary.com.  For more information on the fight to end polio, go to http://www.endpolio.org

Rotary International President Gary Huang with some of the members of the Richmond Hill Rotary Club

Rotary International President Gary Huang with some of the members of the Richmond Hill Rotary Club