Thank you to all those countries, individuals and organizations who recently took part in Rotary’s World Polio Day on October 24, 2014. With news on the Ebola crisis taking much of our attention on both a national and world stage, World Polio Day didn’t get as much visibility as it could’ve but that doesn’t diminish the efforts and importance of this vital cause to end polio.

So, where are we in the fight to end polio? What have we accomplished? Here are some facts: Since 1988, the number of polio cases has been reduced 99% from 350,000 a year to about 400 in 2013. In 2014, Southeast Asia was certified polio-free after India eliminated the disease from its borders, an incredible feat for a country once considered the hardest place on earth to stop polio.
 
In 2014, the Director-General of the World Health Organization declared polio to be a public health emergency of international concern. As such, WHO urges polio-impacted countries to ensure travelers leaving their borders are immunized against the disease. This decision puts additional measures in place to ensure we protect our incredible progress against the disease, and also end the remaining 1% of cases.

Rotary, a humanitarian service organization with nearly 34,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas, made polio eradication its top priority in 1985.  Rotary has since contributed US$1.3 billion, and its members have logged countless volunteer hours to help immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries.  

On World Polio Day, participants included Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners, celebrity ambassadors, polio survivors and special guests tuned into a live event and to take part in the conversation. Once again, thanks to everyone involved in the effort to bring awareness in fighting to end polio.