After 25 years of hard work, Rotary and its partners are on the brink of eradicating this tenacious disease, but a strong push is needed now to root it out once and for all. It is a window of opportunity of historic proportions.
Reaching the ultimate goal of a polio-free world presents ongoing challenges, not the least of which is a hundreds of million dollar funding gap. Of course, Rotary alone can’t fill this gap, but continued Rotarian advocacy for government support can help enormously.
As long as polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, children everywhere remain at risk. The stakes are that high.
What exactly is polio?
- A crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease, polio (poliomyelitis) still strikes children mainly under the age of five in countries in Asia and Africa.
- Polio can cause paralysis and sometimes death. Because there is no cure for polio, the best protection is prevention. For as little as US$0.60 worth of vaccine, a child can be protected against this crippling disease for life.
- It can cause paralysis within hours, and polio paralysis is almost always irreversible.
- In the most severe cases, polio attacks the motor neurons of the brain stem, causing breathing difficulty or even death.
- Historically, polio has been the world’s greatest cause of disability.
If polio isn’t eradicated, the world will continue to live under the threat of the disease. More than 10 million children will be paralyzed in the next 40 years if the world fails to capitalize on its US$9 billion global investment in eradication.
It’s the most ambitious program in Rotary’s history, is the volunteer arm of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. For more than 25 years, Rotary has led the private sector in the global effort to rid the world of this crippling disease. Today, PolioPlus and its role in the initiative is recognized worldwide as a model of public-private cooperation in pursuit of a humanitarian goal.
- To date, Rotary has contributed more than US$1 billion.
- Rotary’s leadership, beginning in 1985, inspired the World Health Assembly to pass a resolution to eradicate polio, which paved the way for the formation of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988.
- Thousands of Rotarians around the world have volunteered during National Immunization Days to immunize children.
- The PolioPlus program helps Rotary fund operational costs, such as transportation, vaccine delivery, social mobilization, and training of health workers, and support surveillance activities. Read more about what happens before, during, and after a National Immunization Day (NID).
- Rotarians work to encourage both donor and polio-affected governments to commit the political and financial resources needed to eradicate polio.
Fund the Fight
Polio has declined rapidly since 1985, but the fight isn’t over. While polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease, for as little as US$0.60, a child can be vaccinated for life. If we don’t finish the fight right now, more than 10 million children under the age of five could be paralyzed in the next 40 years. Rotary raises funds to make sure every child receives access to the polio vaccine.