Healthwatch 16: World Polio Day

World Polio Day is Thursday. It's a day set aside to get the word out that we, worldwide, are very close to eradicating the disease altogether.

Rotary Clubs worldwide have taken on fundraising and awareness campaigns to end polio since 1985, and we spoke with the head of one club who explained how you can get involved.

A video produced by Rotary International, says it all: the world is very close to eradicating polio, a paralyzing and potentially fatal disease that still threatens children in some parts of the world.

Rotary, which believes in world peace through literacy and health initiatives, has been fighting the spread of polio since 1985.

Rotarians are humanitarians, and we're in world service," said Marcia Loughman.

Loughman is a longtime Rotarian in District 74-10, which covers a large portion of the viewing area. She met us ahead of World Polio Day.

"We've been very quiet, and that doesn't help with awareness. People need to be aware that polio is not gone, and it's only a plane ride away. Look at what has happened with measles," said Loughman.

Loughman showed us pictures of some recent events local Rotarians have attended: First Friday in Scranton, at the Steamtown Marathon Expo, and at the marathon finish line the next day.

Rotary likes to say they're running a marathon of their own, and they're almost at the finish line: only three endemic countries are left: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.

"Nigeria hasn't had a case of polio in three years. Very shortly, they'll be named as polio-free. When that happens, all of Africa will be polio-free," Loughman said.

Loughman says that might seem a world away, but if it moves you here in northeastern and central Pennsylvania, helping the fight is as easy as getting involved in a Rotary project in your backyard.

"It's not gone, and until it's gone from the face of the earth, it's not gone, and could come back."

Get more information on the fight against polio here.

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