Over the past 35 years, Rotary has vaccinated 3 billion children in 122 countries from polio, a paralyzing and potentially deadly infectious disease. Even a member of our Rotary Club of Lake Forest – Lake Bluff and his wife helped immunize children in India against polio. Working with key partners, we’ve reduced polio cases by 99.9 percent. We need to stay vigilant, even though it has been a long time since the US housed polio patients in iron lungs (pictured).
Polio is believed to be eliminated everywhere except Afghanistan and Pakistan. As of September 16th, there have been 2 new cases this year: one in Afghanistan and one in Pakistan. To be certified polio-free, each country must have zero cases for three years. Despite challenging terrain and political climates, Rotary is working to continue vaccinations in these two countries. We anticipate needing to vaccinate more than 400M more children to prevent resurgence.  This will continue to require monumental efforts and we can do this, even during another pandemic. The global infrastructure Rotary helped build to end polio is also being used to treat and prevent other diseases like CV-19 and malaria.
Still, Rotary is maintaining focus on ridding the world of polio. Let’s finish this. We need to raise $50M per year. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to match that 2-to-1, for a total commitment of $150M each year. The combined funds are used for operational support, medical workers, laboratory equipment, and educational materials. You don’t have to be a Rotary member to contribute. Please consider a tax-deductible donation to END POLIO NOW! Donate through the international Rotary Foundation here at endpolio.org/donate. To be further recognized for your contribution, you can sign up for our District’s PolioPlus Society: rotary6440.org/Page/join-the-polioplus-society.