Polio (poliomyelitis) is a paralyzing and potentially fatal disease that still threatens children in some parts of the world. It mainly affects children under five. Polio is incurable, but completely vaccine-preventable.
Rotary has been a leader in the world-wide fight to eradicate polio for more than 30 years.
In 1979, Rotary International committed to providing oral polio vaccine to 6 million children in the Philippines. Encouraged by the success of this program, Rotary worked on a plan to immunize all children against polio.
In 1985, Rotary launched its PolioPlus program, the first initiative to tackle global polio eradication through the mass vaccination of children. At that time, polio crippled more than 350,000 children per year in 125 countries.
In 1988, Rotary spurred the creation of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), bringing together the resources of Rotary, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the CDC. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation began supporting the GPEI in 1999 and today is the fifth key partner organization.
Rotary has kept our promise to work toward eradicating polio, and the leadership, commitment, and generosity of Rotary members has brought the world 99.9% of the way there.
No child should be crippled or die from a disease that is completely preventable. And the lessons we’ve learned from fighting polio — and the health infrastructure created to do so — pave the way for other lifesaving health interventions.
Nigeria saw its last polio case in July 2014.
Today, only Pakistan and Afghanistan remain polio-endemic (polio still exists in the environment).
Afghanistan has had fewer than 10 cases so far in 2015. Pakistan will likely be the biggest challenge, since it accounted for nearly 90% of the world’s cases in 2014. However, we’ve seen progress, with a near 75% reduction in cases in the first half of 2015 compared to the same time in 2014.
But we aren’t done yet. We must eliminate polio entirely or it will re-emerge and once again threaten the lives of millions of children all over the world.
The Rotary Club of Halifax Harbourside – like all Rotary Clubs around the world – continues to raise funds and donate to finally eradicate polio. (We’re this close!) Our members also have participated in national immunization day campaigns in India, Nigeria, Madagascar and several other countries.
Click to learn more about the campaign to End Polio Now.