An announcement by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
has assisted health organizations to open the way for a 99.9 percent polio-free world.
In 1978 , The First Presidency, the highest governing body of the Church, stated, “We urge members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to protect their own children through immunization. Then they may wish to join other public-spirited citizens in efforts to eradicate ignorance and apathy that have caused the disturbingly low levels of childhood immunization”.
Since that date, LDS Charities has worked closely with a consortium of health and humanitarian organizations to help eradicate measles and other infectious diseases, by providing funding, service hours, and education.
Partners in the fight to end polio assembled on October 28 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Independence Avenue in Accra, Ghana celebrate World Polio Day. The climax of the event was the launching of a radio awareness campaign on polio. That campaign will use Community Radio to reach areas of low immunization in the country. Theresa Osei Tutu , Chairperson of the National Polio Plus Committee, reported Ghana has not recorded a single incident of polio since 2008. “We are this close to eliminating the disease”. She hopes using community radio to impact unreachable areas will help Ghana and the World become free from poliomyelitis.
Alvin Nay, representing LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, “Polio drives people to poverty. We want people to be self-reliant. For as long as it takes, LDS Charities will work with Rotary International and others to eradicate this disease. The goal is to protect every child in the world”.
According to Fred Riley, manager of immunizations and special projects for LDS Humanitarian Services, “LDS Charities coordinates with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, GAVI, and others, such as Rotary International. What we bring to the table is the ability to gather volunteers in more than 100 countries who don’t expect payment and who reliably show up.”
In thirteen years, approximately 85,000 Church volunteers have donated more than 766,000 hours to immunization campaigns in 35 countries, reaching more than 100 million children and youth on six continents.
“In addition to providing funding and service hours, we want to build a culture of volunteerism and self-reliance,” Brother Riley said. “That is the end goal—to help a country reach the point where it has the resources necessary to help its citizens successfully combat these diseases through immunization.”