PolioPlus (English)

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    With your help, we can finally end polio for good.

The Disease

Poliomyelitis is a highly infectious disease that most commonly affects young 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 used to immunize over 2.5 billion children worldwide.

The Facts                                     

-Polio mainly affects children under age 5.

-There is no cure, but polio is preventable with a vaccine.

-Only three countries remain endemic.

-We’ve reduced cases by 99.9% since 1988.

-Until we end polio forever, every child is at risk.


The History

Take a look at the recent history and major milestones of polio.

  • 1894

    The first major documented polio outbreak in the United States occurs in Vermont; 18 deaths and 132 cases of permanent paralysis are reported.

  • 1905

    Swedish physician Ivar Wickman suggests that polio is a contagious disease that can spread from person to person, and also recognizes that polio could be present in people who show no symptoms.

  • 1908

    Two physicians in Vienna, Karl Landsteiner and Erwin Popper, announce that polio is caused by a virus.

  • 1916

    A major polio outbreak in New York City kills more than 2,000 people. Across the United States, polio takes the lives of about 6,000 people, and paralyzes thousands more.

  • 1929

    Philip Drinker and Harvard University’s Louis Agassiz Shaw Jr. invent an artificial respirator for patients suffering from paralytic polio — the iron lung.

  • 1955

    A vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk is declared “safe and effective.”

  • 1960

    The U.S. government licenses the oral polio vaccine developed by Dr. Albert Sabin.

  • 1979

    Rotary clubs take on a project to buy and help deliver polio vaccine to more than six million children in the Philippines.

  • 1985

    Rotary International launches PolioPlus, the first and largest internationally coordinated private-sector support of a public health initiative, with an initial fundraising target of US$120 million.

  • 1988

    Rotary International and the World Health Organization launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. There are an estimated 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries.

  • 1994

    The International Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication announces that polio has been eliminated from the Americas.

  • 1995

    Health workers and volunteers immunize 165 million children in China and India in a single week. Rotary launches the PolioPlus Partners program, enabling Rotary members in polio-free countries to provide support to fellow members in polio-affected countries for polio eradication activities.

  • 2000

    A record 550 million children – almost one-tenth of the world’s population – receive the oral polio vaccine. The Western Pacific region, spanning from Australia to China, is declared polio-free.

  • 2003

    The Rotary Foundation raises $119 million in a 12-month campaign. Rotary’s total contribution to polio eradication exceeds $500 million. Six countries remain polio-endemic – Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan.

  • 2004

    In Africa, synchronized National Immunization Days in 23 countries target 80 million children, the largest coordinated polio immunization effort on the continent.

  • 2006

    The number of polio-endemic countries drops to four – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, Pakistan.

  • 2009

    Rotary’s overall contribution to the eradication effort nears $800 million. In January the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledges $355 million and issues Rotary a challenge grant of $200 million. This announcement will result in a combined $555 million in support of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

  • 2011

    Rotary welcomes celebrities and other major public figures into a new public awareness campaign and ambassador program called «This Close» to ending polio. Program ambassadors include Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu, violinist Itzhak Perlman, cofounder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates, Grammy Award-winning singers Angelique Kidjo and Ziggy Marley, and environmentalist Dr. Jane Goodall. Rotary’s funding for polio eradication exceeds $1 billion.

  • 2012

    India surpasses an entire year without a recorded case of polio, and is taken off the polio-endemic list. Only three countries remain polio endemic. Rotary surpasses its $200 Million Challenge fundraising goal more than five months earlier than planned.

  • 2014

    India goes three full years without a new case caused by the wild poliovirus, and the World Health Organization certifies the South-East Asia region polio-free. Polio cases are down over 99% since 1988.