Global eradication of polio?
Rotary International and its
partners are in the home stretch
As the volunteer arm of the GPEI, Rotary
focuses on fundraising, advocacy and mobi-
lizing volunteers. Rotary’s PolioPlus program
has raised and contributed more than $900
million toward eradication, and Rotary’s 1. 2
million members in more than 200 coun-
tries actively spread the word and continue
to do the work necessary for success.
WHEN ROTARY International trained its
sights on eradicating polio in the late 1980s,
the disease was active in 120 countries. Today,
after more than 2 billion children have been
immunized against the polio virus in the past
20 years, the disease is endemic in only four
countries—Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and
Pakistan. Its occurrence has been effectively
cut by 99 percent.
Epidemic outbreaks of polio caused panic
in the U.S. during the 1940s and ’50s, leaving
thousands of children
crippled. In the six years
after World War II, new
cases averaged 27,000
each year, with that num-
ber peaking at nearly
A recent fundraising windfall came
from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
which announced a contribution of $355
million, with Rotary to raise $200 million in
matching funds by June 2012.
ALLISON K WESSEL
60,000 in 1952. But the
development of two effective vaccines turned the
tide so that, by 1979, polio
had been virtually eliminated in the U.S.
John Matthews, senior vice president
of human resources
for Costco, was active
in Rotary when the
and remembers how
immense the goal
Polio is spread by
human contact; people
infected by the virus
don’t always get sick but
can still spread it to others of any age. Most frequently, children under 3
years of age are infected.
You don’t have to be a Rotary member
to contribute to the fight. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.
rotary.org and click on “End Polio Now.”
Rotarians administer oral polio vaccine to children in Moradabad, India.
A London Tower Bridge light show
(top) supports the Rotary campaign.
Less than 1 percent of cases result in paralysis, and less than 10 percent of that group
may die when the paralysis affects the
muscles used in breathing.
“In the history of
mankind, we have
only eradicated one
Rotary International, a global humani-
tarian service organization, has some heavy-
weight partners in waging this campaign,
including the World Health Organization,
UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention—collectively
teamed in the Global Polio Eradication
The vigilance can’t let up with just being
close to the goal, or even when the goal is
reached. Polio can and must be totally elim-
inated, and each new generation will require
vaccination to keep the lid on this virulent
disease so it can’t regain a foothold.
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OCTOBER 2010 ;e Costco Connection 63