End Polio Now

 

After 20 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.

Your contribution will help Rotary raise $200 million to match $355 million in challenge grants received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The resulting $555 million will directly support immunization campaigns in developing countries, where polio continues to infect and paralyze children, robbing them of their futures and compounding the hardships faced by their families.

As long as polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, children everywhere remain at risk. The stakes are that high.

 

 

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History of PolioPlus

 

 

Rotary's involvement in polio eradication began in 1979 with a five-year commitment to provide and help deliver polio vaccine to six million children of the Philippines. It was the first project of the new Health, Hunger, and Humanity (3-H) program. In the next four years, similar five-year commitments were approved for Haiti, Bolivia, Morocco, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia.

Since 1988, Rotary International and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) — the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — have worked to wipe polio from the face of the earth. A volunteer service organization of 1.2 million men and women, Rotary began immunizing children against polio in 1985 and became a spearheading partner in the GPEI three years later.

In 1988, when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative began, polio paralysed more than 1000 children worldwide every day. Since then, more than 2.5 billion children have been immunized against polio thanks to the cooperation of more than 200 countries and 20 million volunteers, backed by an international investment of more than US$ 9 billion. 

There are now only 3 countries that have never stopped polio transmission and global incidence of polio cases has decreased by 99% - in 2013, 416 cases were reported for the entire year as opposed to over 350,000 in 1988. 

In February 2012, India, long-regarded as the nation facing the greatest challenges to eradication, was removed from the list of polio-endemic countries, convincing doubters that global polio eradication is feasible. 

There has also been success in eradicating certain strains of the virus; of the three types of wild polioviruses (WPVs), the last case of type 2 was reported in 1999 and the last case of type 3 in November 2012. 

However, tackling the last 1% of polio cases has still proved to be difficult. Conflict, political instability, hard-to-reach populations, and poor infrastructure continue to pose challenges to eradicating the disease. Each country offers a unique set of challenges which require local solutions. Thus, in 2013 the Global Polio Eradication Initiative launched its most comprehensive and ambitious plan for completely eradicating polio. It is a 5 year all-encompassing strategic plan that clearly outlines measures for eliminating polio in its last strongholds and for maintaining a polio-free world. Rotary’s main responsibilities are fundraising, advocacy, and volunteer recruitment. To date, Rotary has contributed more than US$900 million to the polio eradication effort.

With over 33,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas, Rotary is able to reach out to national governments worldwide to generate crucial financial and technical support for polio eradication. Since 1995, the advocacy efforts of Rotary and its partners have helped raise more than $9 billion from donor governments.

Rotary clubs also provide “sweat equity” on the ground in polio-affected communities, which helps ensure that leaders at all levels remain focused on the eradication goal. 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 world has seen polio cases plummet by more than 99 percent, preventing five million instances of child paralysis and 250,000 deaths. When Rotary began its eradication work, polio infected more than 350,000 children annually. In 2009, fewer than 1,700 cases were reported worldwide.

But the polio cases represented by that final 1 percent are the most difficult and expensive to prevent. Challenges include geographic isolation, worker fatigue, armed conflict, and cultural barriers.

That’s why it’s so important to generate the funding needed to End Polio Now. To fail is to invite a polio resurgence that would condemn millions of children to lifelong paralysis in the years ahead.

The bottom line is this: As long as polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, all children — wherever they live — remain at risk.

Facts about polio



     Polio is:

  • A crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease, polio (poliomyelitis) still strikes children mainly under the age of five in countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
  • 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$5 billion global investment in eradication.

View a timeline of polio