Let’s step in the “way back” machine. It’s 1985. Polio is paralyzing more than 1,000 children worldwide every day. The disease is endemic in 125 countries. Rotary International announces its plan to eradicate polio, called PolioPlus. It’s an ambitious goal. Only one human-disease-causing pathogen in the world was ever eradicated. Smallpox.
Today polio cases have decreased over 99 per cent. Two of the three wildpolio viruses are gone. Type 2 was eradicated in 2015. Type 3 in 2019. Fittingly the announcement was made on World Polio Day, October 24, 2019.
It took Rotary 30 years of hard work and strong partnerships to get this far.
Three years after Rotary led the way, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) joined Rotary to found the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joined the initiative in 2000. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was added in 2011.
The end is in sight. Type 1 wild poliovirus is endemic only in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Yet the story doesn’t end there!
The “plus” of Rotary’s PolioPlus provides something else as a part of the polio eradication campaign. It might be a hand-operated tricycle or access to water. It might be additional medical treatment, bed nets or soap. A 2010 study estimates that vitamin A drops given to children at the same time as the polio vaccine prevented 1.25 million deaths by decreasing susceptibility to infectious diseases. Beside saving lives billions of dollars will not be spent to control polio worldwide. Learn more about the "plus" in PolioPlus at https://www.rotary.org/en/plus-polioplus.
Go! Rotary! Go!