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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.
Rotary Yeovil reaches target to build school in Nepal
Four years ago, a devastating earthquake flattened much of Nepal, killing more than 9,000 people. However, thanks to the fundraising efforts of a Somerset-based Rotary club over the past two years, a new school should open in the Himalayan country later this summer.