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Posted by Roger Lindley
To commemorate World Polio Day, 24 October 2018, Chiang Mai International Rotary Club donated U.S.$ 500 to the Polio Plus effort of The Rotary Foundation. This money came from the income of the raffles held during the club meetings during July - September plus small donations from several members. 
 
Polio is a highly infectious disease that is not as much life threatening as it is crippling. Also known as ‘Poliomyelitis’ in medical terms, it is a disease caused by the deadly ‘Poliovirus’. It usually affects children under 5 years of age,  and for this reason it is also known as ‘Infantile Paralysis’. The virus mainly affects the nervous system, leaving the person with a weak crippled leg and unable to walk normally throughout his life.
                                                  
In rare cases the muscles of neck or head may also be affected. In only 0.5% of cases polio results in permanent paralysis, mainly affecting the limbs i.e. legs, feet and ankle. During 1940s and 1950s polio killed or crippled nearly two million people globally. Fortunately, in the past two decades the world has seen a steep decline in the total number of recorded cases with many parts of the world like Europe, America and South East Asia being declared polio free.
 
The World Polio Day was initiated by The Rotary Foundation nearly a decade ago with the aim of complete eradication of Polio virus from all the parts of the world. Rotary International is a partner in the Global Polio Eradication Program with organizations including World Health Organization, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched by Rotary International and the World Health Organization in 1988, when there were nearly 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries.
 
By 2013 most countries were declared polio free, but yet countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan were witnessing rare occurrence of the disease and there was still a constant threat of the disease reappearing in any part of the world. A need was identified to establish World Polio Day to completely eradicate the Polio virus globally through general awareness for vaccination, prevention and raising funds for different programs. World Polio Day is celebrated with only one prime objective, that is – to completely eradicate Polio from all the parts of the world, making the world ‘Polio Free’. The occasion also commemorates the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the team in developing the first vaccine for Poliomyelitis, along with commemorating the efforts of millions of dedicated employees and volunteers of the organizations committed to the cause.
Every year the World Polio Day is celebrated with a new theme, specifying its objective as well as inspiring millions who are committed to the cause. Themes provide an objective or target to be achieved or mark the beginning of a new step towards the goal. World Polio Day Theme 2018 – “End Polio Now”.
 
Dr. Jonas Salk was an American doctor and research virologist. He was born on the 28 October 1914. Salk shunned a lucrative career as a doctor and instead devoted his best years to medical research. Jonas Salk was also a virologist of the highest reputation and was responsible for inventing the vaccine for one of the most damaging medical conditions that can surface due to a virus. Salk enjoyed a long and fruitful career as a researcher, which brought him recognition from some of the leading scientific research organizations in the world. However, something that has made Salk a legendary individual in the field of scientific research is the fact that he gave away his greatest discovery for free and according to experts he could have been a millionaire many times over if he had decided to cash in on it like so many others.
 
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