End Polio

What is polio?

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.

Our goal

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.


The only way to end polio is together. Containing polio to just 3 countries is a tremendous achievement, and proof of what’s possible when we come together. Help us shine a spotlight on polio by advocating, fundraising, and educating on the need to end polio now.

5 things you might not know about Ending Polio

Since 1985, Rotary has been at the forefront of the relentless battle to eliminate polio, embarking on a challenging and arduous journey. Progress has been remarkable, transitioning from almost 350,000 cases in 1988 to a mere 10 reported cases thus far this year. This achievement has demanded the investment of substantial time, resources, unwavering commitment, and groundbreaking ideas from countless individuals dedicated to eradicating this debilitating illness.

Delve into these lesser-known aspects of the ongoing crusade against polio:

  1. In Syria, ice cream factories are lending a helping hand by freezing ice packs utilized by health workers to maintain the optimal temperature of the polio vaccine during crucial immunization campaigns.
  2. Celebrities have assumed the role of ambassadors in our collective endeavor to bring an end to this disease.  Notable personalities such as WWE wrestling superstar John Cena, actress Kristen Bell, action-movie star Jackie Chan, golf legend Jack Nicklaus, Grammy Award-winning singers Angelique Kidjo and Ziggy Marley, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, esteemed anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall, philanthropist Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and world-renowned violinist and polio survivor Itzhak Perlman have all stepped up as ambassadors in our shared mission to eradicate this disease.
  3. Health workers and dedicated Rotary volunteers have displayed extraordinary courage by scaling mountains, traversing deserts, and embarking on perilous journeys to remote islands, all in their unwavering commitment to vaccinate children against this disease. Rotary has played a vital role in supporting these efforts, financing over 1,500 motorbikes, 6,700 other vehicles, and 17 boats to facilitate these crucial missions. In the most remote areas, vaccinators have gone to great lengths by riding on the backs of elephants, donkeys, and camels to ensure that children receive the necessary immunization.
  4. The polio program in Pakistan places a strong emphasis on the recruitment of local female vaccinators and monitors. With over 21,000 dedicated vaccinators, a remarkable 83 percent of whom are women, the country has witnessed the attainment of record-high immunization coverage rates.
  5. The combined endeavors of Rotary and its collaborative partners have brought about an astounding outcome: over 16 million individuals, who would have otherwise faced paralysis, are now able to walk freely. In a monumental achievement, over 2.5 billion children have received vaccination since 1988, safeguarding their health and contributing to the fight against polio.



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