Polio Eradication

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District PolioPlus Committee

Eradication of polio from Planet Earth is Rotary International's # 1 priority.

Since 1985, RI has led the private sector to make polio the second human disease to be eradicated by man (Smallpox being the first). RI has also partnered thru Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) with World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Control (CDC), UNICEF and, more recently the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  GPEI hopes to see the last case of poliovirus by 2018. However, before the world can be declared polio free, there must be a period of three years with no reported cases. During those three years we MUST continue to protect an estimated 450,000,000 children under the age of 5 years, worldwide with polio vaccination

In 2017, at RI’s International Convention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation challenged RI to raise $50,000,000 each of the next three years. With their continued 2 to 1 match our partnership will raise a total of $450,000,000 over those three years. RI will meet this challenge.  RI has raised approximately 10% of the eradication costs since 1985.  The remaining 90% has come from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, other private funding sources and governments around the world, including the USA.
 
Guided by RI's Strategic Plan and the District Foundation chair, the District PolioPlus committee sets yearly goals.  For 2017-2018, the committee has been asked to help the sixty-two District 5450 clubs raise $114,725 for polio eradication through its members and community awareness events. This also helps showcase the service aspect of Rotary's mission, “Service above Self”. 
 
In the past 10 years, the District 5450 PolioPlus Committee has helped clubs raise over $1,160,000, not including the Bill and Melinda Gates matches. The PolioPlus Committee has done this by offering information and speakers on polio, providing flyers, encouraging club fundraisers and community awareness programs, and adding posts to the “End Polio Now - Rotary District 5450” Facebook page. In 2011, the Denver City and County Building and Republic Plaza building were lit up with the RI logo, END POLIO NOW. In 2013, large "End Polio Now" signs were posted at several sites inside the DIA terminal. In 2016, the RI President's Dinner began to highlight fundraising for Polio.
 
Polio remains a crippling and potentially fatal disease most often striking children under the age of 5. In 1985, 1000 people a day, or 350,000 per year - mostly children - were crippled by polio. For the year 2016, only 37 cases were confirmed in the world. But millions of children must still be immunized every year until the poliovirus is eradicated. There is no cure for polio; prevention (immunization) is the only protection.  We are 99.9% of the way toward finally eradicating polio from the earth!
 
For more information and videos on polio and Rotary's involvement, go to www.endpolio.org; and for polio data from GPEI, www.polioeradication.org. If you have questions, wish to access our District polio resources, or want to join the District 5450 PolioPlus Committee, contact Mary Jean Ewing, at maryjeanewing@earthlink.net.