Historic Solihull church to be beamed with purple lights for World Polio Day - The Solihull Observer

Historic Solihull church to be beamed with purple lights for World Polio Day

Solihull Editorial 5th Oct, 2018   0

ONE OF Solihull’s most historic buildings will be beamed with purple lights in honour of World Polio Day.

Borough Rotary Clubs will join forces to illuminate St Alphege Church with a mass of lights on October 24.

The spectacle has been organised to mark progress towards a polio-free world as part of Rotary’s ‘Purple4Polio’ campaign.

Organisers say Solihull will join millions of people from across the world highlighting the need to eradicate the preventable paralysing disease.

The charitable organisation says the illness predominantly afflicts young children and members of the older generations can still remember the ‘horror of the iron lung’.

The so-called iron lung is a mechanical respirator used to keep polio patients breathing as muscles became paralysed.

Children in the UK began to be regularly vaccinated in the 1960s after the vaccine was invented by scientist Jonas Salk in the US.

Polio still exists in three countries: Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan.

The organisation says in many countries, when a child receives lifesaving polio drops, their little finger is painted with a purple dye so it is clear they have received their life-saving vaccine.

A Rotary Heart of England spokesperson says: “33 years ago, Rotary pledged to make the world Polio free.

“In 1985 there were 125 endemic countries and hundreds of new cases daily.

“By 2017 there were only 22 victims of polio in the entire world…but as long as there is one, children everywhere – even here – are still vulnerable and at risk.

“Over two billion doses of oral polio vaccine are administered every year in over 60 countries and this has to be maintained, until the world is finally certified polio free.

“To sustain progress, Rotary has committed to raising £40 million every year over the next 3 years.

“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match Rotary’s commitment 2:1.”

Rotary Heart of England’s district governor Gary Dancer said: “I remember having a sugar lump when little in which there was a dose of life-saving polio vaccine.

“I absolutely know that the work Rotary is doing to eradicate polio in the same way as smallpox – is essential to prevent its return.

“We hope that making St. Alphege Church purple for the day will bring awareness and support from Solihull’s businesses and residents to help get behind us in our efforts.”

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