Rotary International has partnered with the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to free the world of this crippling and highly contagious disease. Rooted in Pittsburgh, where the Polio vaccine was developed, Pittsburgh Rotarians continue to participate through various fundraisers and awareness campaigns. The goal is in sight!
Polio Plus History:
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 International begins its fight against polio with a multi-year project to immunize
6 million children in the Philippines.
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.
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.
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 1 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 10% of the world’s population – receive the oral
polio vaccine. The Western Pacific region, spanning from Australia to China, is declared
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 4 – 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
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, co-founder 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
2012 – India surpasses 1 year without a recorded case of polio, and is taken off the polio-endemic list.
Only 3 countries remain polio endemic. Rotary surpasses its $200 Million Challenge fundraising
goal more than 5 months earlier than planned.
2014 – India goes 3 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