Rotarians Gearing up for World Polio Day & Dr. Robert Scott's lifetime work

Photo courtesy of Pakistan PolioPlus Committee.

Rotarians around the globe are planning events to raise polio eradication awareness and funding for World Polio Day on 24 October. Rotarians are getting ready to spread the word about World Polio Day, 24 October, and the need to finish the job of eradicating the disease. Photo courtesy of Pakistan PolioPlus Committee.

Australian club members are working with the Global Poverty Project on a petition drive aimed at persuading world leaders to fully fund the critical work of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Supporters can sign the petition online.

The Global Poverty Project has scheduled an End of Polio Concert on 28 October to coincide with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia. Rotarians have joined with the group to lobby leaders to put polio eradication on the meeting agenda. Hugh Evans, cofounder and CEO of the Global Poverty Project, is a scheduled speaker at the 2012 RI Convention in Bangkok, Thailand, in May.

"Global collaboration has ensured that eradication is within reach," says Michael Sheldrick, the group's polio campaign manager and a member of the Rotary Club of Crawley, Western Australia. "Our generation has a chance to realize a historic opportunity and ensure that no one else ever has to fear this disease. That’s why it’s vital we commit to finish the job."

Among other events planned around World Polio Day are these:
• Rotarians in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, are organizing a Walk to End Polio Now, aimed at drawing 4,000 participants and raising money for Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge to match $355 million in grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of polio eradication.
• The Rotary Club of Venezia-Riviera del Brenta, Italy, has organized a Run to End Polio fundraiser as part of the 23 October Venice Marathon.
• Rotary, Rotaract, and Interact clubs in Canada and the United States are coordinating a Wake Up Across the Continent polio awareness initiative during the week of 24-28 October. Each club is encouraged to participate and to publicize its activities, share ideas, and post images on Facebook.
• Rotarians in Finland will conduct a "This Close" campaign with ads in print, on television, and online 24-28 October, and they plan a fundraiser on World Polio Day.
• Rotarians in Canada have arranged for the "This Close" TV public service announcement and other polio-related programming to air on CBC nationally throughout October.
• Rotarians in Africa have started a "This Close" page on Facebook for World Polio Day, encouraging fellow Rotarians to replace their Facebook profile photo that day with their "This Close" photo from
• The Rotary Club of Linlithgow Grange, Lothian, Scotland, is sponsoring a Scotch Hop dance fundraiser on 29 October to benefit Rotary's challenge.
• Rotary clubs in Boston will present A Festival of Voices: Singing Out to End Polio Now on 23 October, with all proceeds to benefit the challenge.
• The Nepal PolioPlus Committee will host a one-day seminar on polio in conjunction with the local UNICEF office.
Inspired by these plans? Here are a few ways you and your club can help observe World Polio Day:
• Create your own "This Close" ad and make it your Facebook profile photo.
• Host a walk, run, or bikeathon. Be sure to send out a press release about the event. Download a sample release.
• Download a World Polio Day Proclamation and ask your town to commemorate World Polio Day on 24 October.
• Place an op-ed about polio in your local newspaper. See a sample.
• Use "This Close" resources from the Rotary Media Center.
• Earn double recognition points by making a contribution to help End Polio Now online 24-28 October.
• Begin planning for an End Polio Now lighting to celebrate Rotary's anniversary on 23 February.
If your club is planning a fundraiser or project for World Polio Day, let us know at

Dr. Robert Scott's lifetime work to fight polio

EVANSTON, Ill., U.S.A. (May 9, 2011) COBOURG -- For three decades, Dr. Robert Scott has been a Rotarian and advocate for worldwide polio eradication.

Born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, Dr. Scott immigrated with his wife, Ann and four children to Cobourg in 1966. A general practitioner, he joined a local practice and happily settled into rural Canadian life. "We wanted to settle in a small town, not a big city," said Dr. Scott. "Through a friend of a friend of a friend, I heard about the practice of Dr. Jack Leeson. On the shake of a hand, I came for one year and stayed, no further hand shakes necessary."

In 1971, Dr. Scott was invited to join the Cobourg Rotary Club. He continued to practice medicine until 1996 when he retired. Gradually over the years, said Dr. Scott, his Rotary work began to take over more and more of his time. From July 1987 to June 1988, Dr. Scott was the District Governor. From 1996 to 1998, he became one of 19 elected directors for Rotary International. In 1997, he was appointed Rotary International Board of Directors Vice-president and if that wasn't enough, in 2004 Dr. Scott was appointed a trustee on The Rotary Foundation Charity Board by Rotary International.

The foundation board is made up of 15 trustees appointed by Rotary International for a four-year term. After three years on the board as a trustee, Dr. Scott was elected by his fellow trustees to be vice-chairman of the board. Due to unforeseen circumstances, he became the chairman from 2007 to 2008. "It's what I call the 'Miss America Rule', if the person who is elected chairman is unable to serve for any reason, then the vice steps up," said Dr. Scott. "Only 17 days into his term, the chair gave up so I virtually had a full year as chairman, apart from 17 days."

"When I became chairman of the foundation, I was really quite delighted," he continued. "It was an amazing situation." Through his work and association with Rotary, Dr. Scott has been working tirelessly toward the global eradication of polio since 1979.

In September 1979 for the first time ever, Rotary International sponsored a day in the Philippines where all the children under the age of 15 were immunized against Polio, said Dr. Scott. Clinics were setup across the country to administer the vaccinations. "That was how we started," said Dr. Scott. "As compared to today, it wasn't very well organized but we did it. By 1985, it was decided by the board, that we would supply polio vaccine to any country that requested it but didn't have money to do it."

Rotary International as a whole began raising money for the new initiative. In 1988, they raised $247 million, with over $1 million coming from this district (of which Dr. Scott was the governor). Since then, a spearheading cooperative of organizations has formed between Rotary International, UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO) and Centre for Disease Control (CDC) Atlanta to follow through on the global polio eradication initiative.

Most recently, the Bill Gates Foundation has been increasingly generous and interested in assisting with the initiative, publicly stating it's the number one objective of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. "After our first fundraising campaign (in 1988) we all thought polio will quickly disappear," said Dr. Scott. "We started with 125 countries with 1,000 cases a day, this year we're down to 1,000 cases a year. So we're 99.9 per cent there, we're now down to four countries that have never yet eradicated polio, that's India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria."

Now the Chairman of the International PolioPlus Committee (a sub-committee of the foundation) for the past four years, Dr. Scott continues to work toward a polio-free world. Next up Dr. Scott will be travelling to Chad and Namibia as well as India to continue the fight to eradicate polio.

Copyright 2003-04 Rotary eClub NY1 * Updated 2011
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