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“Because of the efforts of Rotary and its partners, almost 19 million people are walking today who would have otherwise been paralysed.”
John Germ Past President, Rotary International
The eradication of polio is Rotary International’s longest, toughest and most significant project. Since its launch of PolioPlus in 1985, 1.2 million Rotarians have contributed more than $3 billion to help vaccinate 2.5 billion children across 122 countries. We have reduced polio cases by 99.9% and we will not stop until our goal of polio eradication is achieved.
“24 October is World Polio Day when we celebrate the achievements of polio eradication and focus on the tasks ahead,” says District Governor Ross Pinkham. “Rotary is committed to raising NZ$70 million each year for three years for polio eradication and has agreement from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to match that figure 2:1, contributing over NZ$210 million toward fulfilling Rotary’s promise to the children of the world: That no child will ever again suffer the devastating effects of polio.”
Poliomyelitis, mainly affects children under the age of five. There is no cure, but it is preventable with safe and effective vaccines. The virus is spread person-to-person, and through contaminated water. It can attack the nervous system, and lead to paralysis, however, many people can be infected and not have any symptoms. Intensive global surveillance, particularly of water and sewerage, help track the virus.

In 1988, Rotary formed the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Gates Foundation and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, joined later.