A summary of the key numbers in the fight to eradicate polio worldwide.
Key Numbers in the Fight to End Polio
20 million: the number of volunteers participating
Since the GPEI was launched in 1988, Rotary and other volunteers have raised funds, built awareness, and advocated for their national governments to support polio eradication.
A volunteer can administer the two drops of oral polio vaccine to a child, and participate in National Immunization Days, which attempt to vaccinate every child under five years of age in endemic or at-risk countries.
$1.5 billion: the amount needed to eradicate polio
This may sound expensive, but, in the words of Dr. Jonas Salk, who invented the first effective polio vaccine, “which is more important, the human value of the dollar, or the dollar value of the human?”
Funding has already contributed to many important successes of our program. In 2016, Rotary funded the work of 52,676 vaccinators and 2528 supervisors in Iraq to keep up strong immunization coverage. Funds also make possible the program’s extensive surveillance and laboratory network to tell us where polio does (and does not) exist — a painstaking task given only one in 200 cases of polio results in paralysis. This network is already instrumental for taking on public health challenges beyond polio, such as Ebola.
4: the factor by which health savings exceed the cost of polio eradication
Immunization as a public health investment is incredibly good value. Every dollar spent on vaccinations in the US saves $3 in direct healthcare costs and $10 societally. A polio-free world will reap financial savings and reduce healthcare costs by up to $50 billion through 2035. In fact, we’ve already saved $27 billion since the GPEI was launched, and low-income countries account for 85% of the savings, not to mention the immeasurable alleviation of human suffering.
Conversely, if we allow polio to spread again, it would cost upwards of $35 billion more in treatment expenses and economic losses.
(John Hewko - General Secretary and CEO at Rotary International)