Club creams polio one dinner at a time
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Polio fighter, Dr Bob Stewart.