World Health Day, Oct. 24, marks a very important day for Rotary International and World Health Organization. The groups commemorate the birthday of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis or polio.

Use of this inactivated vaccine and subsequent widespread use of oral poliovirus, developed by Albert Sabin, led to the establishment of Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988.

Currently, 99.9 percent of polio has been eradicated. Without the eradication efforts of Rotary International since 1979, more than 17 million currently healthy people would have been paralyzed with polio. Rotary and its now partners around the world have used this vaccine to immunize more than 2.5 billion children worldwide.

For 39 years, Rotarians have led the attack on eradicating the polio virus. Although there is no cure, this safe and effective vaccine has stopped the spread of this highly infectious disease, that most commonly affected children under the age of 5. Rotary International is dedicated to having a Polio Free World.

A PolioPlus campaign to raise money for this cause was launched in 1985 by Rotary International. It is the first and largest, internationally coordinated private-sector support, of a public health initiative, with an initial fundraising target of $120 million dollars for polio eradication.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joined up with Rotary in 2007, in this Global Polio Eradication initiative and has triple matched contributed donations. The Gates Foundation alone, has contributed over $1.6 billion dollars to end polio.

An important note is as of 2018, there were only 18 new polio cases reported throughout the world. This number was lower a few years ago, but it has been difficult to deliver the vaccine to remote and dangerous parts of the world.

Rotarians continue their immunization mission because, “It is essential, that we maintain the momentum for the complete eradication of polio in the world. We are very, very close, but until every country is certified polio free, and there are no more new cases of wild polio, there remains the real danger that it can come roaring back.”

Busy, busy, busy with so many exciting plans on the table for our annual Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair Saturday, Feb. 16 and Sunday, Feb. 17. It features more than 120 talented artists, an enormous silent auction, food court with seating and lots of fun.

Thanks to an exit survey done by Rotarian, Joleen Raho, at last years fair; the club will be taking into account some of the suggestions and comments from fair attendees and try and improve attendee experiences. This is a great FAIR but we can always strive to make it better.

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary’s Youth Exchange Student from Taiwan will be changing host families in a few weeks. Exchange students are here for one school year and are usually hosted by at least host two families to allow them a broader perspective of life here in the states.

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary’s new INTERACT club at the Sanibel Middle School will be starting soon and students may get a chance to join our Rotary Club at the club’s meal packing “Meals of Hope” event on Nov. 10. It will be fun and the students will get a chance to be involved in their first community service opportunity with their club sponsor – Sanibel-Captiva Rotary. Nov. 5-11 is Rotary International’s World INTERACT week.

Club speakers coming up: Oct. 26 – Dr. Bruce Neil, Sanibel Sea School; Nov. 2 – Richard Parfitt, Director of Safety and Security – Lee County Schools; Nov. 9 -Roger Trifshauser – presents Veteran’s Day program; and Nov. 16 – Roxanne Dyer – Executive Director – Guardian ad Litem Foundation.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meets on Friday mornings at 7 a.m. for breakfast followed by their meeting and speaker series at 7:30 a.m. at the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, Sanibel. Guests are always welcomed.