Rotary & Polio: October 24th is National Polio Day.
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a paralyzing and potentially fatal disease that still threatens children in some parts of the world. The poliovirus invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. It can strike at any age but mainly affects children under five. Polio is incurable, but completely vaccine-preventable.
In 1985, Rotary launched its PolioPlus program, the first initiative to tackle global polio eradication through the mass vaccination of children. Rotary has contributed more than $1.7 billion and countless volunteer hours to immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries. In addition, Rotary’s advocacy efforts have played a role in decisions by donor governments to contribute more than $7.2 billion to the effort.
Global Polio Eradication Initiative
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, formed in 1988, is a public-private partnership that includes Rotary, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and governments of the world. Rotary’s focus is advocacy, fundraising, volunteer recruitment and awareness-building.
Today, there are only three countries that have never stopped transmission of the wild poliovirus: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Just 37 polio cases were confirmed worldwide in 2016, which is a reduction of more than 99.9 percent since the 1980s, when the world saw about 1,000 cases per day.
The polio cases represented by the remaining one percent are the most difficult to prevent, due to factors including geographical isolation, poor public infrastructure, armed conflict and cultural barriers. Until polio is eradicated, all countries remain at risk of outbreaks.
Rotary will raise $50 million per year over the next three years, with every dollar to be matched with two additional dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These funds help to provide much-needed operational support, medical personnel, laboratory equipment, and educational materials for health workers and parents. Governments, corporations and private individuals all play a crucial role in funding.
Rotary in Action
More than one million Rotary members have donated their time and personal resources to end polio. Every year, hundreds of Rotary members work side-by-side with health workers to vaccinate children in polio-affected countries. Rotary Members work with UNICEF and other partners to prepare and distribute mass communication tools to reach people in areas isolated by conflict, geography, or poverty. Rotary members also recruit fellow volunteers, assist with transporting the vaccine, and provide other logistical support.
‘This Close’ Campaign
Rotary has a growing roster of public figures and celebrities participating in its “This Close” public awareness campaign, including Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; actresses Kristen Bell and Archie Panjabi; WWE superstar John Cena; supermodel Isabeli Fontana; Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu; action movie star Jackie Chan; boxing great Manny Pacquiao; pop star Psy; golf legend Jack Nicklaus; conservationist Jane Goodall; premier violinist Itzhak Perlman; Grammy Award winners A.R. Rahman; Angelique Kidjo and Ziggy Marley; and peace advocate Queen Noor of Jordan. These ambassadors help educate the public about polio through public service announcements, social media and public appearances.
Rotary Foundation Committee
Chair: David Simpson
Summary: This committee promotes and supports the activities of our Rotary Foundation. This includes educating members on the role of the Rotary Foundation and encouraging our members to donate to the Rotary Foundation through Paul Harris Fellowships and the Annual Giving Program. Pledge Form
World Community Service Committee
Chair: Leo Johnson
Summary: The World Community Service Committee supports and creates international projects in developing countries, with a focus on high priority areas for Rotary International including literacy, health, water, gender issues and vocational training.
The committee works with Rotary Clubs and other partners overseas to build goodwill and peace through international service.
Youth Exchange Committee
Summary: Rotarian volunteers have helped build Rotary Youth Exchange into the world-renowned program that it is today. They work behind the scenes, taking care of the logistics that make the exchanges happen. Local Rotarians introduce students to other club members and organize social and cultural functions for them to attend. For long-term exchanges, host clubs and districts arrange secondary school enrollment, tuition, and other educational matters, and Rotarian counselors maintain contact with host families and students.
Group Study Exchange Committee
Summary: The Rotary Foundation’s Group Study Exchange (GSE) program is a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for businesspeople and professionals between the ages of 25 and 40 who are in the early stages of their careers. The program provides travel grants for teams to exchange visits in paired areas of different countries. For four to six weeks, team members experience the host country’s culture and institutions, observe how their vocations are practiced abroad, develop personal and professional relationships, and exchange ideas.
Disaster Response & Shelterbox
Chair: Alex Moroz
Summary: This committee will be the club’s response to disaster relief projects supported by our Rotary District or Rotary International. This committee also supports the Shelterbox program.