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


1979 – Rotary International begins its fight against polio with a multi-year project to immunize

6 million children in the Philippines.


  • 1985


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.


  • 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.


  • 1994


1994 – The International Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication announces that polio

has been eliminated from the Americas.


  • 1995


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


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


2004 – In Africa, synchronized National Immunization Days in 23 countries target 80 million children,

the largest coordinated polio immunization effort on the continent.


  • 2006


2006 – The number of polio-endemic countries drops to 4 – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, Pakistan.


  • 2009


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


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

$1 billion.


  • 2012


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


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