Kyle Haugen, a member of the Prior Lake , Minnesota Rotary Club, provided an update on Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio at the club’s first face-to-face meeting in many months. Kyle comes from a family of Rotarians and has served as a former District Governor. He has been active for a number of years in the End Polio Now project raising funds and advocating for the cause. Kyle shared his personal experience of traveling to India in 2019 to participate in an immunization drive.
Rotary’s commitment to eradicating polio started with a grant in 1979 to immunize the children of the Philippines. Out of that initial effort, the Global Eradication Initiative was created. In 2007, the Gates Foundation joined the cause, pledging to spend two dollars for every dollar spent by Rotary.
The eradication effort has utilized 20 million volunteers working in 200 countries. Some 15 billion dollars has been spent, and spectacular success has been achieved. The focus is now on Pakistan, where there have been no new cases since January, and Afghanistan where there are only a handful of remains cases.
Polio Plus needs continuing assistance to finish the job and to provide related health measures in countries at risk, but the goal of eradication is truly within reach.
The mood was celebratory as Lawrence Central Rotary met face-to-face for the first time in many months. Members wore masks except when they were eating, other wise it was business as usual. Thanks to the good work of the ad hoc technology committee, a new computer and camera system was employed. The new equipment makes it possible for members and future speakers who can’t attend in person to participate in a meeting.