Eradication of Polio.
Following a Rotary grant of $700,000 grant to the Philippines Government . to provide polio vaccine over a 5 year period the number of polio cases in the Philippines was reduced from 2000 in 1979 to 4 in 1985, Rotary thought that polio, through a rolling programmer, could be eradicated from the world by year 2000.
They attended the World Health Assembly in New York in 1986 and made the suggestion and offered to provide 100million doses of vaccine each year for 5 years which they would donate to any poor country who would take up the offer. The cost to Rotary would be $125million. By 1988 Rotarians had raised $248million and returned back to the World Assembly. A consortium of WHO. U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and Rotary was formed to manage the project.
In 1988, Polio was endemic in 125 countries and more than 350.000 cases were being reported every year. By year 2000 they-had reduced the number of cases to under 3000 a year. Contributions from the richer Countries of the world had been encouraged but Rotary POLIO funds were running low. Another fund raising was initiated to raise $100million. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation generously doubled the funds to $200million. They are now the fifth member of the consortium. Slowly the number of cases have been reduced annually. By 2013 the number was just over 200.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation suggested to Rotary that if they raised up to $35million each year for the next 5 years they would treble the amounts raised . The number of cases have continued to decrease every year, 70 in 2015, 37 in 2016. The disease is endemic in only 3 countries now, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Immunization needs to continue for three years after the last case has been reported. and then the world can be declared Free From Polio. This is Rotary’s LEGACY to the children of the world , NOT JUST THIS GENERATION BUT ALL FUTURE GENERATIONS.