The Rotary Foundation   – Polio

Rotary’s involvement with Polio began in 1979, in the Philippines.  A handful of Rotarians secured a 3H Grant (Health, Hunger + Humanity) from Foundation, to carry out the vaccination work on those islands.

So successful was this project that in the early 1980’s an appeal for funds was broadcast throughout the Rotary world; we sought to raise $100 Million to extend the work over a wider area; in fact, the sum raised from that appeal totalled $247 Million.  The World Health Organisation watched with great interest, both the success of our work in the Philippines, also our amazing fund-raising ability from a world-wide network of Clubs.

In the mid-1980s the WHO joined in partnership with Rotary, to form the largest public health initiative in the history of the world; Polio Eradication was the common goal.  At the start of that partnership Rotary made a promise to the children of the world, that we would not stop campaigning and raising funds, until Polio was eradicated.  We are steadfast in our intention to keep that promise.

There have been several campaigns to raise funds over the years since the mid-1980s, but by far the biggest appeals have been in connection with the Gates Challenge (see below).

The Gates Challenge

In November, 2007, the Bill + Melinda Gates Foundation offered to give Rotary $100 Million towards Polio Eradication, if Rotary would match that figure over a 3 year period; the 3 year ‘clock’ for that $100M Challenge started on 1st December, 2007.

We were so successful in raising funds towards our $100 M target, that in January, 2009,  the Gates Foundation donated another $255 M to Rotary for further work; again we were tasked to match that 2nd tranche of $100M, and again it was over a 3 year term.  The appeal became the $200 Million Challenge; it started on 1st July, 2009, with 30th June, 2012, being the closing date.  We comfortably met our target before last June, such that the Gates Foundation gave Rotary yet another $50 M early in 2012; that gift was without strings, in that we were not tasked to match any of it.

Currently there are 3 Polio endemic countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan + Nigeria.  The number of polio cases worldwide is a figure regularly posted on the District website; it shows the number of cases since 1st January this year, against a comparative figure over the same period last year.

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