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Rotary: Working toward total eradication of polio

Youngstown joins world in push to end disease for good

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

End Polio Now

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Rotary clubs from The Valley gathered to light up Youngstown and end polio now.

By Sean Barron |


Within less than 30 years, polio has been more than 99 percent eradicated worldwide, but for Geoffrey S. Goll, that number isn’t quite good enough.

“We’re getting close” to eliminating the crippling, infectious viral disease altogether, but it continues to spread in a few areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Goll told those who attended Monday evening’s Light Up Youngstown for Polio Eradication event at the City Centre One building, 100 E. Federal St., downtown.

Sponsoring the half-hour gathering was Rotary District 6650, in conjunction with the Youngstown Rotary Club.

The event also was part of World Polio Day, set up to raise funds, awareness and support toward ending the disease, and preceded the late Dr. Jonas Salk’s birthday, which would have been Friday.

Dr. Salk was instrumental in developing a highly effective polio vaccine in the early 1950s.

In 1988, an estimated 1,000 children a day were being diagnosed with polio around the world, noted Goll, who serves as second Polio Now coordinator with Rotary Zone 29, which represents clubs from Michigan to Maryland.

Last year, 75 cases were reported worldwide, and the figure dropped to 26 confirmed cases as of last month, he explained.

Since 1988, Rotarians have raised about $1.5 billion, in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to fight the spread of the highly contagious disease, said Goll, who was diagnosed with polio as a child.

“We’re going to continue with what we’re doing, because we are so close to eliminating it,” said Sieglinde Warren, Rotary District 6650’s district governor and a member of the Canfield Rotary.

In 1988, Rotary International began working with five entities – including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization and UNICEF – to accomplish that goal, she said.

“We were like, ‘Let’s do it together and we have a better chance,’” Warren said. ”Polio is so preventable and easy to inoculate.”

Also at the event, city Councilman Julius Oliver, D-1st, who is a Rotarian, presented a proclamation to the Youngstown Rotary Club.

Rotary International established World Polio Day to commemorate the birth of Dr. Salk. The use of two vaccines, one of which was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin, resulted in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, according to the World Health Organization.