Rotarian Tim Lee gives a presentation during a meeting for the Rotary Club of Columbus at the Donner Center in Columbus, Ind., Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. Lee talked about his recent trip to Pakistan to check on the status of polio in that country. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

Polio is a disease that attacks a person’s nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. Three decades ago there were 300,000 cases globally.

Fortunately, the number of cases has been reduced to a handful, thanks in large part to the efforts of an international service organization with support from its local branches.

Rotary International has been on the front lines of efforts to eradicate the disease for more than 30 years. The result is that polio infection has been reduced to only 11 known cases — and only in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Rotary and its medical partners have used a polio vaccine to immunize more than 2.5 billion children worldwide.

Local Rotary Clubs such as Columbus Rotary Club and Columbus Sunrise Rotary Club have played key roles in informing and educating members and the public about the ongoing effort and need to eradicate polio. That message has been heard loud and clear.

Donations of more than $1 billion by Rotarians worldwide over the past 30 years have helped make the dramatic reduction in new polio cases possible. That gives greater hope that people around the world will live longer, healthier lives.

However, vigilance in the polio eradication effort is required to prevent the number of new cases from increasing.

Rotarians on the front lines say they face challenges such as fear of the vaccine by citizens of some countries, which has led to resistance to immunization and in getting the vaccine to remote areas. The worry is that if immunization efforts don’t continue at the present rate, as many as 200,000 new cases could occur over the next decade.

We applaud Rotary International for its work, and Columbus Rotary Club and Columbus Sunrise Rotary locally for their passionate involvement.

What they have done to inform people about the disease and try to eradicate it has made a huge difference in the lives of people around the world.

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