Club creams po­lio one din­ner at a time

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - RICHARD MAYS

Po­liomyeli­tis is a paralysing dis­ease that no longer af­fects New Zealand chil­dren. Al­most wiped out, its last re­main­ing strongholds in Afghanistan and Pak­istan are how­ever prov­ing dif­fi­cult to erad­i­cate.

For­mer Palmer­ston North city coun­cil­lor and a for­mer deputy vice chan­cel­lor of Fiji’s Uni­ver­sity of the South Pa­cific, Dr Bob Ste­wart is a mem­ber of the city’s small but highly de­ter­mined Ro­tary Club of Ter­race End, out to to de­feat the dis­ease.

‘‘It’s an en­demic tragedy for the chil­dren of those two coun­tries, but also for the rest of the world, be­cause it could be rein­tro­duced to po­lio-free coun­tries.’’

His club has em­braced the con­cept of af­fec­tive al­tru­ism, mak­ing sure that max­i­mum use is made out of ev­ery anti-po­lio dol­lar raised, and that any money is not sent where there’s a pos­si­bil­ity of it be­ing chewed up in ad­min­is­tra­tion costs.

‘‘We may only have 24 mem­bers but in the last two years our three Po­lioPlus din­ners have raised enough money to save 12,300 chil­dren from po­lio. From the din­ners, and from mem­bers of fel­low­ship clubs, we raised $2880. It’s been a mag­nif­i­cent ef­fort.’’

Ro­tary is part­nered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, which has pledged a twofor-one sub­sidy. That means the $2880 was mag­ni­fied to $8664. While po­lio is in­cur­able, it can be vac­ci­nated against, with an in­oc­u­la­tion cost­ing just 70 cents per child.

‘‘It goes to show that even a small group of peo­ple can make a big dif­fer­ence.’’

The Po­lioPlus din­ner is on Wed­nes­day, Au­gust 17 at 5.30pm in the Rus­sell Room of Massey‘s Whar­erata Staff Club.

Ste­wart said he’d love to see mem­bers of the pub­lic along to share the meal, support the cause and hear a panel talk about the dis­ease from var­i­ous per­spec­tives.

Po­lio pa­tient and for­mer Manawatu Stan­dard jour­nal­ist Mervyn Dykes can talk from personal ex­pe­ri­ence; so can his wife Tina White as a partner of some­one with the dis­ease, along with for­mer Whanganui po­lio nurse, Bev Quinn.

For $25 tick­ets, con­tact Ste­wart on 355-5736 or ste­wart@sbpjour­nal.com

WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Po­lio fighter, Dr Bob Ste­wart.

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