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Rotary spearheaded the campaign at a time when there were over 1,000 polio cases a day in 125 countries, paralysing and even killing children.
Today, the number of cases is down by 99.9%.
Over the last 30 years, Rotary has donated US$1.8 billion to the eradication effort and has protected over 2.5 billion children from the disease through vaccination programmes.
Inspired in part by Rotary’s volunteer commitment and fundraising success, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched in 1988.
This remarkable partnership which includes Rotary, World Health Organization, UNICEF, the US Center for Disease Control & Prevention and, more recently, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Despite there only being a handful of cases left in the world, continued campaigning, health worker training and vaccination programmes are essential to stop the disease returning and ensuring the world is certified polio-free.
Rotary members continue to be key players in many aspects of the polio programme including on the ground in a number of countries as well as fundraising and advocacy.
Failure to eradicate polio could result in as many as 200,000 new cases worldwide every year within a decade.
Rotary members in Great Britain and Ireland have been huge supporters of End Polio Now and you can be part of making history.
Bill Gates thanks Rotary for taking lead in fight against polio
Bill Gates was just a few months old when the first polio vaccine was developed in 1955. Now the American philanthropist is at the forefront with Rotary in the fight against polio. He used a district conference in Spokane, Washington, USA, to thank Rotarians for their leadership and dedication to eradicate the disease from the planet.