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.

Polio Plus US$200 Million Challenge Progress

It’s official, India has been removed from the list of polio-endemic countries. From the 125 countries in the world that were infected with polio when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) began, there are now only three left that have never stopped transmission.

Further positive news is that the last six months have seen the lowest number of cases globally to have been recorded during this six-month period in the last ten years. That said, there is still a lot of work to be done until the world is polio free – particularly given the upsurge in cases in Nigeria and Pakistan during that same period. The GPEI needs all the support it can get to see this done. 

After 25 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.

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 $8 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.

PolioPlus Fund

Since the PolioPlus program's inception in 1985, more than two billion children have received oral polio vaccine. But Rotary's work is not done: The disease has not yet been eradicated. Contribute to the PolioPlus Fund online or by mail to support Rotary's goal of a polio-free world.

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What polio eradication costs

From 2010 through 2012, an estimated US$850 million per year from all sources is needed in donor contributions to fund the final eradication phase. This level of expense is expected to decrease as wild poliovirus transmission is interrupted in the four remaining polio-endemic countries and outbreaks in previously polio-free countries are reduced. The budget for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative is revised quarterly to reflect changes in epidemiology as well as financial contributions made by Rotary and other donors to the program.

Contribute to polio eradication

Let others know about Rotary's progress by placing the fundraising graphic on your club's or district's website. Visit the web ad page to get the html code to put this graphic on your website and have the fundraising numbers automatically update.

Rotary's Challenge is our response to the two grants totaling $355 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help eradicate polio, which goes until 30 June.

Make a one-time gift or enroll in recurring giving to help End Polio Now.

More information

Rotary Foundation tax identification number: 36-3245072