Rotary In Motion

 OCTOBER 22 , 2015

Rotary, along with our partners, has reduced polio cases by 99 percent worldwide since our first project to vaccinate children in the Philippines in 1979. The Rotary Foundation in conjunction with the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation has raised funds to immunize over 2 billion children in 122 countries.

In 1985 Rotary launched it’s PolioPlus program, the first and largest internationally coordinated private-sector support of a public health initiative, with an initial pledge of $120,000,000. In 1988, Rotarians raised over $247,000,000.00 which was more than double their original fundraising goal. That year, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution to eradicate polio, setting up the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. More than 125 countries were polio-endemic at that time.

There has not been a case of wild poliovirus in the Americas since 1991. The Western Hemisphere was declared polio-free in 1994.

In 1995 Rotarians, health workers and volunteers immunized 165 million children in China and India in a single week. Rotary launched the PolioPlus Partners program, enabling Rotarians in polio-free countries to provide financial support to their fellow Rotarians in polio-affected countries for immunization campaigns and other polio eradication activities.

In 1997 the last case of wild polio occurs in the Western Pacific Region. She was a 15-month-old girl called Mum Chanty living near Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 

In the year 2000 a record 550 million children - almost one-tenth of the world’s population - received the oral polio vaccine. The Western Pacific region, spanning from Australia to China was declared polio-free that year.

In 2004 80 million children are immunized in Africa. By 2006 the number of polio-endemic countries had dropped from 125 countries in 1988 to just 4 (Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan).

In 2009 Rotary’s overall contribution to the eradication effort nears $800,000,000.00. In January of that year the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $355 million and issues Rotary a challenge grant of $200 million which becomes known as Rotary’s $200 Million Challenge. 

In 2011 celebrities and major public figures joined Rotary in a new public awareness campaign called “This Close” to ending polio. Program ambassadors include Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu, violinist Itzhak Perlman, golfer Jack Nicklaus, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, actor Jackie Chan  and others.

India was declared polio-free back in 2012 and today, only three countries in the world remain on the endemic list.

The Rotary Club of Union County meets each Thursday at noon in the Community Room of the Southern Bank and Trust in Blairsville. Lunch is served and you are invited to attend. RSVP by calling (954) 614-0009.

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