Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a paralyzing and potentially deadly infectious disease that most commonly affects children under the age of 5. The virus spreads from person to person, typically through contaminated water. It can then attack the nervous system.
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 paralyzing 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 paralyze as many as 200,000 children each year.