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NEW DELHI (AP) - India marked three years Monday since its last reported polio case, putting the country on course to being formally declared free of the disease later this year.
India has made great strides against polio in recent years through a rigorous vaccination campaign. But for many in India, where polio victims with withered, twisted limbs are a common sight on the streets, these advances have come too late.
"My parents were very poor and couldn't afford medical treatment for me," said Sonu Kumar, 24, who contracted the disease when he was 10. Paralyzed from the waist down, he begs outside a temple in central Delhi and uses a wheelchair to move around.
Polio is a vaccine-preventable disease that has been eradicated in most countries. But it still causes paralysis or death in some parts of the world, including Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Polio usually infects children under age 5 when they drink contaminated water. The virus attacks the central nervous system, causing paralysis, muscular atrophy, deformation and, in some cases, death.
"India was once thought to be the most difficult country in which to achieve polio eradication," Global Polio Eradication Initiative said in a statement.
Monday's milestone was significant, but the World Health Organization stills need to confirm there are no undetected cases before making the official declaration that India is polio-free in March.
Still, Junior Home Minister R.P.N. Singh sent a triumphant message on Twitter: "Proud day for all of us as Indians ... India is polio free for three years."
PolioPlus, the most ambitious program in Rotary's history, is the volunteer arm of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. For more than 25 years, Rotary has led the private sector in the global effort to rid the world of this crippling disease. Today, PolioPlus and its role in the initiative is recognized worldwide as a model of public-private cooperation in pursuit of a humanitarian goal.
August - Membership and Extension
September - New Generations
October - Vocational Service
November - Rotary Foundation
December - Family Life
January- Rotary Understanding
February - World Understanding
March - Literacy
April - Rotary Magazine
June - Fellowship
Literacy is so important to Rotary International, that an entire month of the Rotary Year is devoted to focusing our attention on it. In 1985, Rotary declared basic literacy to be a pre-condition to the development of peace. Through this organizational emphasis, more than half the world's 33,000 Rotary clubs address the full range of literacy and mathematical challenges for primary, vocational and adult learners as well as teacher training.
In 1911 an all-women's Rotary Club was formed in Minneapolis and between 1911 and 1917 an all women's Rotary Club existed in Duluth, Minnesota alongside the men's club, which exists to this day as an all woman Rotary Club. In 1912, the Belfast, Northern Ireland club and The RI Duluth Convention discussed the admission of women but rejected the idea. This was to happen at every convention until 1921, when at the International Convention in Edinburgh, Scotland the Standard Club Constitution was produced in which Article 2, Section III stated "A Rotary Club shall be comprised of men.