Health

Rotary against polio

Rotary Australia is joining the global fight to eradicate polio on World Polio Day 2019.

Volunteers were waiting at train stations in the CBD this morning, collecting donations and raising awareness for poliomyelitis, better known as polio.

Stephanie Terwindt collects loose change. Photo: Tom Robinson.

Elizabeth Quay Rotary member Stephanie Terwindt says the organisation has supported polio awareness since 1985.

She says every donation to Rotary will be doubled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Ms Terwindt says the disease has almost been globally eradicated, apart from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

She says a global effort is needed to completely wipe out polio, which has been vaccinated in Australia since 1955.

“We usually focus on much more local matters so it’s nice to do something that’s a bit more of an international program,” she says.

Polio still a local matter

Post Polio Network of Western Australia chief executive Tessa Jupp says polio is still a problem for thousands of Australians.

She says 36,000 people suffer from Post-polio syndrome, and 2500 of them live in WA.

Ms Jupp says the syndrome, which damages muscles and increases fatigue, affects people years after they contract polio.

She says most people with post-polio syndrome are between sixty and ninety years old, but it affects people of all ages.

“They develop problems further down the track as they get older,” she says.

“If they get polio as a baby, they develop problems in their twenties.”

Many people are still affected by polio. Photo: Tom Robinson.

Ms Jupp says ongoing awareness of polio is needed to make sure the disease does not make a comeback in Australia, and points to a recent outbreak in Papua New Guinea to highlight its dangers.

“Like the measles, it can be brought back in.”

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