The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International

Rotary is a volunteer organization of 1.2 million business, professional and community leaders united worldwide to provide humanitarian service. The mission is to enable Rotary's members to advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education and the alleviation of poverty. Rotarians lead service programs in their communities and abroad that address today's most pressing challenges while encouraging high ethical standards in their vocations.
Jan 30, 2014

Congratulations Polio-Free India!

Polio survivor, mom at Rotary
Polio survivor, mom at Rotary's polio ward

India marks three years since its last case of wild polio on 13 January 2014, a landmark achievement for global public health and the worldwide effort to eradicate polio. Experts once considered India the most technically difficult place to end polio. As recently as 2009, India was home to nearly half the world’s polio cases.  High population density, migrant populations and poor sanitation presented exceptional challenges to eliminating this crippling disease.

With commitment from Rotary, the Indian government, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, other donor governments, and the global community, India launched a comprehensive polio eradication effort and built a robust health infrastructure to eliminate the disease. An army of 2.3 million vaccinators worked to reach 175 million children with the polio vaccine during national immunization days.

Rotary's polio chair in India, Deepak Kapur, shares a little of his experience participating in the immunization effort over many years. He says, "early 2000, I visited a high-risk area during a polio immunization week. A mother refused vaccination by the health worker for her child. I tried to convince the mother that it was important to immunize her infant. She continually refused the polio vaccination for her child. I was stunned to see that a little boy, her older child, crawled in from the back entrance obviously crippled with polio. This lady, despite already having a child afflicted with polio was still hesitant to immunize her other infant. That day I realized how big a challenge it would be for us in India to make parents like her come around to save their children from polio. Along the way, we did it. To feel that no child’s life in India now will be wasted because of being affected by polio is a tremendous feeling of joy and fulfillment.

Click on our link below to see photos of the people and resources that were necessary for India to end polio.Share this gallery through your social networks to encourage others to help make the world polio-free.

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Oct 30, 2013

Rotary on World Polio Day, 24 October 2013

Rotary polio ambassador and actress Archie Panjabi
Rotary polio ambassador and actress Archie Panjabi

Rotary helped put polio eradication on center stage on the day best known for rallying support to finish the job – World Polio Day, 24 October.

A special Livestream presentation  –  World Polio Day: Making History – showcased the progress of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Co-hosted by Rotary and the Northwestern University Center for Global Health, the 60-minute program took place before a live audience at the John Hughes Auditorium on Northwestern’s Chicago campus and streamed online to viewers worldwide. 

The event featured an overview of the progress of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Actress Archie Panjabi from The Good Wife, a Rotary Polio Ambassador, joined a panel that includes the world’s leading expert on polio eradication, Dr. Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general for Polio, Emergencies and Country Collaboration at the World Health Organization; Dennis Ogbe, polio survivor, Paralympian, and ambassador for the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign to promote child immunization; and Dr. Robert Murphy, professor of medicine-infectious diseases at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. 

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Aug 12, 2013

Gates Foundation joins with Rotary to boost polio

Gates announces new match at Rotary Convention
Gates announces new match at Rotary Convention

An announcement at the Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal, set the stage for a bold new chapter in the partnership between Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the campaign for polio eradication.  

“Going forward, the Gates Foundation will match two-to-one, up to US$35 million per year, every dollar Rotary commits to reduce the funding shortfall for polio eradication through 2018,” said Jeff Raikes, the foundation’s chief executive officer, in a prerecorded video address shown during the convention’s plenary session on 25 June. “If fully realized, the value of this new partnership with Rotary is more than $500 million. In this way, your contributions to polio will work twice as hard.”  

The joint effort, called End Polio Now – Make History Today, comes during a critical phase for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative . The estimated cost of the initiative’s2013-18 Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan is $5.5 billion. Funding commitments , announced at the Global Vaccine Summit in April, total $4 billion. Unless the $1.5 billion funding gap is met, immunization levels in polio-affected countries will decrease. And if polio is allowed to rebound, within a decade, more than 200,000 children worldwide could be paralyzed every year. 

Rotary and the Gates Foundation are determined not to let polio make a comeback.

“We will combine the strength of Rotary’s network with our resources, and together with the other partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), we will not just end a disease but change the face of public health forever,” said Raikes. 

In 2007, the Gates Foundation gave The Rotary Foundation a $100 million challenge grant for polio eradication, and in 2009, increased it to $355 million. Rotary agreed to raise $200 million in matching funds by 30 June 2012, but Rotarians in fact raised $228.7 million toward the challenge.

“Now is the time for us all to take action: Talk to your government leaders, share your polio story with your social networks, and encourage others to join you in supporting this historic effort,” Raikes added. “When Rotarians combine the passion for service along with the power of a global network, you are unstoppable, and the Gates Foundation is proud to partner with you. Let’s make history and End Polio Now.”

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