Over the past several days with October 26, 2018 as its culmination by commemorating the World Polio Day, I had the pleasure of engaging in the fight against polio with Utah Valley University’s (UVU) Rotaract organization. Rotaract is a student club of the Rotary International, a worldwide organization with the mission of creating a more sustainable world. Rotaract recently joined the Utah International Mountain Forum (www.utahimf.org) , a coalition of student clubs at UVU with focus on the advocacy of the United Nations sustainable mountain development agenda. One of Rotary International’s focuses is the fight against polio. To many, the fight against polio has gone quiet during the rise of the 21st century. However, for some people, the fight and struggles against polio is a daily event. Rotary International has made it their goal to eradicate polio from the face of the earth. In the history of mankind, only small pox has ever been eradicated permanently. Now, through the help of thousands of dedicated Rotary International members and the efforts of the “End Polio Now” program, the goal to eradicate polio is in sight.
UIMF hosted before members of the Utah Rotary International as part of celebration of International Mountain Day 2016. On November 16, 2016, Dr. Scott Leckman, then District Governor designate, who has done a lot of work in India, Mrs. Ruth Riley, the President of Provo Rotary and Mr. Dean Jackson, a member of the Provo Rotary informed UVU students about helping people worldwide and in particular mountain communities to eradicate polio.
The 2018 World Polio Day activities culminated in an event held at UVU on October 26, 2018 when several members of Utah Rotary International made presentations how they helped educate the public on the effort for polio. Major presentations at the event were made by Mr. Jose Velasco, Rotaract Advisor from the Rotary club of Midvale, UT, and Mr. Jay A. Jacobson, Emeritus Professor at University of Utah School of Medicine and Intermountain Healthcare. Mr. Jacobson shared with audience polio history and where we stand on the issue today. Mr. Velasco told us about Rotaract programs overseas and in Mexico in particular, which sounds very interesting for me to take part.
“End Polio Now”, Rotary International’s program to end polio has become a world-wide effort. (https://www.endpolio.org ). With nearly two and a half billion children around the world vaccinated for the disease, polio cases have become limited to only three countries: Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. To spread awareness, End Polio Now is promoted every year on October 24th, which has become World Polio Day. Sponsored by UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World polio day generates significant awareness and funds for the eradication of polio.
William Gum, UVU student marks his finger in pink
During the days leading up to World Polio Day, UVU Rotaract participated in hosting tables to help spread the word about causes, challenges and importance of fighting with polio. Together, we gave out information and accepted donations to help vaccinate children for polio around the world. Those who donated, had the chance to have a finger marked pink to broadcast their aid in the polio effort. Children in the affected countries are marked the same way to show that they have been vaccinated for polio.
Overall, the experience was very insightful to see how far humanity has come in the eradication of diseases, and that soon, we will have our second eradication.
Kyle Warren, member, Rotaract at UVU