End Polio Now

The Eradication of Polio

Rotary is an international community that brings together leaders who step up to take on the world’s toughest challenges, locally and globally. The eradication of polio is one of our longest standing and most significant efforts. Along with our partners, we have helped immunise more than 2.5 billion children against polio in 122 countries. We have reduced polio cases by 99.9 percent worldwide and we won’t stop until we end the disease for good.

Rotary has been working to eradicate polio for more than 35 years. Our goal of ridding the world of this disease is closer than ever. As a founding partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, we’ve reduced polio cases by 99.9 percent since our first project to vaccinate children in the Philippines in 1979.

Rotary members have contributed more than $2.1 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect nearly 3 billion children in 122 countries from this paralysing disease. Rotary’s advocacy efforts have played a role in decisions by governments to contribute more than $10 billion to the effort.

Today, polio remains endemic only in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But it’s crucial to continue working to keep other countries polio-free. If all eradication efforts stopped today, within 10 years, polio could paralyse as many as 200,000 children each year.

The Disease

Poliomyelitis is a highly infectious disease that most commonly affects children under the age of 5.

Most know it as poliovirus. The virus is spread person to person, typically through contaminated water. It can attack the nervous system, and in some instances, lead to paralysis. Although there is no cure, there is a safe and effective vaccine – one which Rotary and our partners use to immunise over 2.5 billion children worldwide.

Health workers and volunteers participate in a door-to-door polio immunisation campaign in Kaduna, Nigeria. 13 April 2019. Rotary International is working closely with the government of Nigeria and its GPEI partners to intensify polio-eradication efforts there by addressing cultural barriers, fostering community education, and increasing surveillance in a mobile population.