District 5100 Rotarians immunized children in Ethiopia.
Since Rotary’s Polio Plus program began in 1985, more than 2 billion children have received oral polio vaccine. Rotary’s work is not yet done, but we are on the brink of eliminating this disease from the face of the earth. In fact, Rotary club members worldwide are cautiously celebrating a major milestone in our efforts.
India, until recently an epicenter of the wild polio virus has gone one year without recording a new case of the crippling, sometimes fatal disease (last reported case January 13, 2011). Inspired by Rotary’s commitment, the World Health Organization (WHO) passed a resolution in 1988 to eradicate polio.Now a partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with WHO, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rotary is recognized as the key private partner in the eradication effort.
In 2008, Rotary received a $100 million challenge grant for polio eradication from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary committed to raising $100 million. In 2009, Bill Gates announced a second challenge grant of $255 million. Rotary again committed to raising another $100 million. That goal was met as of January 2012 with Rotary raising more than $202.6 million. In recognition of Rotary’s great work and to inspire Rotarians in the future, the Gates Foundation has committed another $50 million.