Local Polio Survivor Speaks to Recognize World Polio Day
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Polio still affects the lives of children in three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria, but the Downtown Sioux Falls Rotary Club is fighting back. Tomorrow is World Polio Day. Health officials say the number of cases diagnosed each year is down by more than 99 percent.
Rotaries across the world have contributed more than $1.7 billion dollars to ending polio since 1985, which also includes funds from the four rotary clubs of Sioux Falls.
South Dakota native, Mark Sternhagen, recalls his challenging childhood undergoing polio treatment in Sioux Falls.
Sternhagen worries that parents could decide to not vaccinate their children and the disease that changed his life could make a comeback.
“If something like polio was to get wild again in this country it would just be devastating and if people don’t vaccinate, that can happen and we really need to guard against that,” said Sternhagen.
Rotary clubs have committed to raising $50 million dollars per year over the next three years in support of global polio eradication efforts. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has agreed to match that commitment 2:1.