Rotary launched the PolioPlus program to protect children worldwide from
the cruel and fatal consequences of polio. In 1988, the World Health Assembly
challenged the world to eradicate polio. Since that time, Rotary's efforts
and those of partner agencies, including the World Health Organization,
the United Nations Children's Fund, the United States Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, and governments around the world, have achieved
a 99 percent reduction in the number of polio cases worldwide.
Rotarians stand at the brink
of a great victory and look forward to celebrating the global eradication
of polio in 2005, the organization's centennial year.
Rotary's role in polio eradication
continues to evolve. Initially its role was that of a catalyst, providing
money for vaccine and volunteer support to overcome problems associated
with distribution. A Rotary Foundation grant funded a core group of polio
experts at the World Health Organization (WHO), who have guided the global
program. In more recent years, PolioPlus funds have funded transportation
and other operational costs associated with vaccine delivery, surveillance
efforts (including laboratory needs) to identify areas where the virus
circulates, and training for healthcare workers and volunteers involved
in the immunization process.