Rotary Club of Weston’s Commitment to Global Polio Eradication IS STRONGER THAN EVER!

In the 35 years since Rotary International made a promise of “A Polio Free World,” more than one million Rotary members have helped advocate and raise funds for Polio vaccines, including going to the most remote places to administer the vaccine. Polio eradication is currently the signature cause for Rotary International due to the magnitude of the challenge and the historic importance of eradicating this debilitating and sometimes fatal disease. 

This crusade started in 1985 when Rotary International decided to start this fight and partner with governments and international organizations. At the time, the world was facing more than 350,000 Polio cases per year, affecting primarily children under 5 years of age, and the disease was present in more than 122 countries. Now, after years of worldwide initiatives and millions of hours of volunteer service, more than 2.5 billion children have received the Polio vaccine. As a result, more than 16 million people can live normal healthy lives because they were protected from Polio and its potential to cause significant disability, paralysis, or even death.

Though the world is currently 99.9% Polio free, Polio is still present in 2 countries: Afghanistan & Pakistan. These countries continue to remain endemic and unable to eradicate the virus, facing pockets of infection and circulating wild Poliovirus. The total number of wild polio virus cases in these two countries is small, however, with fewer than 10 cases during 2023. The strategy is to reach the most remote places with a goal of reaching the “zero-dose children” – children who have never received a dose of the Polio vaccine and are therefore at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

Polio is a distant memory for many people given that it was eradicated in the United States in the 70s and in many other countries in the 80s. However, Rotary International has kept Polio’s history relevant by making it a priority as one of our most important humanitarian causes. The strategy is very clear, and a group of affected and neighboring countries are following a successful model. Rotary has formed a successful partnership with The World Health Organization, Unicef, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the local governments that covers everything from vaccine production and distribution, surveillance, and geographical data analysis to the last step, a trustable vaccine carrier. This is where an “accepted” member of the local society, local women, and health workers work together to handle cultural barriers. Volunteers have climbed mountains and traveled in boats and on animals in their efforts to reach all children!

Every year Rotary International commits $150 million to the Polio Eradication effort, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation matches $2 for every $1 that is raised. It is estimated that at least one million Rotary Members directly contribute toward funding the Polio eradication effort. Locally, Rotary Club of Weston has remained highly supportive of the Polio eradication cause, raising thousands of dollars for this effort every year. Last year alone we raised more than $19,000 for Polio, which, after factoring in the matching contribution from the Gates Foundation, resulted in the creation of over 95,000 Polio vaccines. 

Our work as Rotary members will continue until Polio is completely eradicated. Rotary Club of Weston will stay committed to these efforts until we are a Polio Free World!