Rotary Club of Orinda

Polio Plus

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Nearly 30 years ago, Rotary International, working with the United Nation's World Health Organization, launched a global effort to eradicate one of the world's most debilitating diseases: polio. At the time, polio was endemic in 125 countries on five continents, paralysing 350,000 children every year (1,000 per day).

To date, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has proved one of mankind’s most enormous collective endeavours in war or peace. Over the years, at a cost of $4 billion, it has mobilized governments, development partners, civil society, religious leaders, private sector, academic institutions and 20 million volunteers and health workers to deliver oral polio vaccine to over two billion children all over the world at their doorsteps. UNICEF has supplied over 10 billion doses of oral polio vaccine to support the effort.

Rotary International's role in the global effort to eradicate polio cannot be overstated. Since its inception of "Polio Plus,"  Rotary has consistently fueled the effort with resources, advocacy and genuine hard work on the ground, committing over $600 million to the effort.  Rotary's advocacy efforts with both endemic and donor country governments have maintained the dream of a polio-free world over the past 29 years, and brought polio to the brink of eradication.  

And even more benefits have resulted from this global immunization effort:  Polio immunization campaigns have become a critical vehicle for delivering other  health services to children. Vitamin A capsules are often given along with polio drops.  In post-Taliban Afghanistan, polio vaccinators also supported the country’s first birth  registration campaign. Health systems and facilities strengthened by polio eradication  campaigns have been used to hold measles immunization campaigns. Community  education work funded by polio donors has boosted basic health and hygiene awareness in the world's poorest communities.

Today, polio is endemic in only 3 countries:
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria.  We are literally "this close" to ending this crippling disease!