In 1985 Rotary made a commitment to eradicate polio in the world and became a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative that included the World Health Organisation, the US Centres for Disease and Prevention, and UNICEF.
Rotary’s primary responsibilities include fundraising, advocacy, and volunteer recruitment. With nearly 35,000 clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas, Rotary reaches out to national governments worldwide to generate crucial financial and technical support for polio eradication.
Since 1985, Rotary and its partners, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have helped raise more than US$6 billion in vital funding from donor governments. Rotary club members have volunteered their time and personal resources to reach more than two billion children in 122 countries with the oral polio vaccine.
Thanks to Rotary and its partners, the number of polio cases has been slashed by more than 99%, preventing five million new cases of childhood paralysis and 250,000 deaths. But the polio cases represented by that final 1% will be the most difficult and expensive to prevent for a variety of reasons, including geographical isolation, worker fatigue, armed conflict, and cultural barriers. To ease up now would be to invite a polio resurgence that would condemn millions of children to lifelong paralysis and undo the incredible achievements of the last 30 years.
The eradication of polio has been called “Rotary’s Finest Hour” and is arguably one of the greatest co-operative humanitarian projects ever undertaken.
Further information on polio can be accessed at: www.rotary.org/endpolio