2009.04.14: April 14, 2009: Headlines: COS - Togo: Public Health: Polio: Medicine: Speaking Out: Northfield News: Togo RPCV Charlie Cogan writes: Letís eradicate polio once and for all

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Togo: Peace Corps Togo : Peace Corps Togo: Newest Stories: 2009.04.14: April 14, 2009: Headlines: COS - Togo: Public Health: Polio: Medicine: Speaking Out: Northfield News: Togo RPCV Charlie Cogan writes: Letís eradicate polio once and for all

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Togo RPCV Charlie Cogan writes: Letís eradicate polio once and for all

Togo RPCV Charlie Cogan writes: Letís eradicate polio once and for all

In the past five years, Iíve taken two teams of local Rotary volunteers to West Africa, a region I know well from Peace Corps service in Togo. Itís been very rewarding to see countries like Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Benin become polio-free during this period, thanks to the efforts of Rotary volunteers and our partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Recently, I spoke to a group of almost 100 incoming Rotary leaders from Minnesota and Wisconsin and asked if any were polio survivors. Several raised their hands. Then, I asked how many had family members or friends who had survived polio, and more than half raised their hands. We even have two Rotary members in our area ó Richard Maus and Les Anderson ó who have written books about their struggles with polio. But those who raised their hands are old enough to remember life before the advent of effective polio vaccine in the 1950s. For most Americans born in the last 40 years, polio is simply ancient history. In reality, the fight to eradicate polio in the rest of the world has continued to the present day.

Togo RPCV Charlie Cogan writes: Letís eradicate polio once and for all

Letís eradicate polio once and for all

By: CHARLIE COGAN, Guest columnist

Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 8:44 pm

In late January, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary International announced a partnership to contribute $355 million in new funds to eradicate polio, a crippling childhood disease. I wonder how many readers remember polio at all, or are aware that it is still a part of everyday life in some nations.

Recently, I spoke to a group of almost 100 incoming Rotary leaders from Minnesota and Wisconsin and asked if any were polio survivors. Several raised their hands. Then, I asked how many had family members or friends who had survived polio, and more than half raised their hands. We even have two Rotary members in our area ó Richard Maus and Les Anderson ó who have written books about their struggles with polio. But those who raised their hands are old enough to remember life before the advent of effective polio vaccine in the 1950s. For most Americans born in the last 40 years, polio is simply ancient history. In reality, the fight to eradicate polio in the rest of the world has continued to the present day.

In the past five years, Iíve taken two teams of local Rotary volunteers to West Africa, a region I know well from Peace Corps service in Togo. Itís been very rewarding to see countries like Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Benin become polio-free during this period, thanks to the efforts of Rotary volunteers and our partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

The Gates Foundation grant includes a challenge to Rotary clubs around the world to raise $200 million for polio eradication. Iím the chair of that effort for the 64 clubs in Rotary District 5960. With our communities behind us, Rotary clubs are doing their share to meet the goal. Our annual Northfield Rotary Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day earmarked its proceeds for polio eradication for the past two years, raising about $10,000.

We have seen great progress in the two decades since Rotary tabbed polio eradication as its top priority. In 1988 there were almost 350,000 cases of polio worldwide in 125 countries. In 2008, there were fewer than 2,000 cases, a reduction of more than 99 percent. Unfortunately, there are still four polio-endemic countries: Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Until eradication is achieved, this highly contagious disease can spread quickly from the endemic countries to polio-free countries. In 2005, we even had a few confirmed polio cases right here in Minnesota, a reminder that polio can strike children anywhere.

I first came to Rotary 11 years ago after my wifeís younger brother in Togo died of a preventable and treatable blood disease. We needed help to make sure the childrenís hospital in her home town in Togo had an efficient blood lab so that other children could be protected. With the support of Rotary, we did it. That made me realize how much can be accomplished when people work together. While Rotary has taken the lead in the polio eradication effort, we need everyoneís help to succeed. We have set up a Web site ó www.rotary.org/endpolio ó specifically to educate the public about Rotaryís polio program, and I invite you to help us make history by wiping out polio once and for all.



óCharlie Cogan, of Northfield, is the chair of Rotary District 5960 working to achieve the Gates Foundation challenge to Rotary clubs around the world to raise $200 million for polio eradication.




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Headlines: April, 2009; Peace Corps Togo; Directory of Togo RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Togo RPCVs; Public Health; Medicine; Speaking Out





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Story Source: Northfield News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Togo; Public Health; Polio; Medicine; Speaking Out

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