Keep the Promise: a polio-free world

by Bill Boyd  Foundation Trustee Chair

As I write this, we are still reflecting on the achievement of a full year in India without a case of polio. As recently as 2009, India had more cases than any other country, so this represents a tremendous effort by Rotarians and our partners, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the government of India and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It shows what can be done when people of goodwill work together toward a goal. As Rotarians, we should feel proud of our fellow Rotarians and the whole family of Rotary in India.

This is not the time to relax, however. India is close to two countries where polio still exists, and China had an outbreak in 2011 because of an importation. India has shown that winning the battle is possible, but some hard work remains to be done.

One of the “unsung” aspects of our effort has been advocacy. The governments of the world have contributed billions of dollars for polio eradication, and much of it has come because of the advocacy of Rotarians. This work is quietly performed in the background, but the results have been significant.

The Gates Foundation gave us another US$50 million gift in January to help us remain an effective member of the partnership. We have several years to go before the world can be certified polio-free. Please do not stop giving because we have achieved the target of Rotary’s Challenge, for every dollar you give for the eradication of polio will be used exactly for that.

We made a promise to the children of the world that they would live in a world free of polio. As Rotarians, we keep our promises!

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About John Borst

John Borst’s career in education spans the years 1960 to 1996. During those 36 years, he spent an equal amount of time working int he English language, Public and Catholic school boards. Borst taught in both elementary and high school environments. Positions of responsibilities held included department head in Geography, curriculum coordinator of Social and Environmental Studies, Principal, Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, Superintendent of Schools, and Superintendent of Student Services. Borst retired in 1996 as Director of Education for the legacy Dryden Board of Education. During this time, Borst has lived in the Ontario communities of Brampton, Toronto, Newmarket, Thunder Bay, Aurora and Dryden. Currently, Borst splits his time between Dryden and Toronto. Since retirement, Borst has served as a Supervisory Officer with a remote School Authority; been a freelance writer of articles on education in particular for Education Today, the magazine of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA); founded and edited from 2006 - 2010 the Education blog Tomorrow’s Trust: A Review of Catholic Education; and from 2003-2010 was a trustee of the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
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