Rotary launched its polio immunization program PolioPlus in 1985 and in 1988 became a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with the WHO, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since the initiative launched in 1988, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases a year in 125 countries to 359 confirmed in 2014 in three countries.
Smallpox was eliminated in 1977. If stopped, Polio will be the second human disease to be eliminated.
In July 2015, Nigeria was declared non-endemic. Today only two counties remain that have wild Polio, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Rotary’s PolioPlus Programs has helped beyond reducing the cases of polio. The polio immunization infrastructure helped in Nigeria to end the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
Rotary’s roles within the initiative are fundraising, advocacy, and social mobilization. To date, Rotary has contributed more than US$ 1.5 billion and countless volunteer hours to fight polio. Through 2018, every new dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication will be matched two-to-one by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation up to US$ 35 Million a year.
“If we all have the fortitude to see this effort through to the end, then we will eradicate polio.” — Bill Gates
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