We have only one WORLD yet! If we destroy it, where else will we go?
Winter 2002: 8th issue - **2nd Anniversary**

Sixty US Rotary Club members to immunize children against polio in India

Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide, who provide humanitarian service, and help to build goodwill and peace in the world.

Sixty US Rotary club members to immunize children against polio in India Part of Global Effort to Eradicate Polio Worldwide by 2005 (EVANSTON, Illinois, USA - 4 February 2002)

A group of 60 Rotary club members from the Midwest region of the United States will travel to India to assist local Rotary members in vaccinating every child under the age of five against polio in the Mumbai (Bombay) area.

Undeterred by the tragic events of 11 September and the ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan, the group, which will include individuals ranging from age 8 to 80, will depart for India on 9 February and return 25 February. Leading the group is Dowagiac, Michigan, resident David Groner. "We are proud to be part of this historic effort to rid the world of a crippling disease that has impacted millions of lives throughout the centuries," said Groner. "Regardless of current world challenges, we must remain diligent in our efforts to ensure that every child is protected against this tragic and preventable disease."

While in India, the volunteers will administer drops of oral polio vaccine to children, assist parents in getting their children vaccinated, transport health workers, deliver the vaccine to health clinics and recruit fellow volunteers during India's Sub National Immunization Day (SNID).

In recognizing these extraordinary volunteer efforts, Richard King, president of Rotary International, and Luis Giay, chairman of The Rotary Foundation, will also travel to India to publicly launch the SNID and meet with world health leaders at Rotary's PolioPlus Summit to discuss the progress and next steps in overcoming the remaining challenges to eradicating polio in India and worldwide. "This volunteer spirit is what enables Rotary to move toward its goal of polio eradication," said King.

Thanks to the dedication of Rotary volunteers worldwide, there will soon be one less threat against the children of the world."

While there is no cure for polio, a highly infectious disease that mainly affects children under the age of three, the best treatment is prevention. A child can be protected against polio for as little as US$0.50 worth of vaccine.

After launching its PolioPlus program in 1985, eradicating polio has become Rotary's main philanthropic goal. Since then, Rotary has contributed US$42 million to polio eradication efforts in India and US$462 million worldwide.

Besides raising funds, over one million men and women of Rotary have donated their time and personal resources to help immunize nearly two billion children in 122 countries. As respected leaders in their communities, Rotary members play a key role in winning people's confidence in the program. Last year, over 100,000 Rotary club members volunteered during the national immunization days in India, some traveling from as far as the United States and Japan. Just recently, Rotary clubs of Pakistan helped immunize over 30 million children, including those living in Afghan refugee camps.

These efforts have yielded significant results. In India, 265 cases of polio were recorded in 2000, compared to 2,817 cases in 1999. India's 68,017 Rotary club members can take credit for much of this success as they have volunteered during NIDs for more than a decade.

Polio eradication worldwide is extremely close to completion. In 2000, there were 2880 cases of polio reported in 20 countries, a 99 percent decrease from the 350,000 cases estimated in 1988 in 125 countries. Today, the poliovirus circulates in just 10 countries, mainly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The Americas were declared free from polio in 1994, as well as the Western Pacific region in 2000. Europe will be the next block of countries to be declared polio-free toward the end of this year. Once eradicated, polio will be the second disease after smallpox ever to be eliminated.

Despite this extraordinary success, the final phase of the effort is the most challenging. Closing a US$400 million funding gap, accessing children in countries in conflict, and maintaining political commitment in the face of a disappearing disease must be achieved before the world can be declared polio-free in 2005.

To help meet the funding challenge, The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International and the United Nations Foundation are collaborating to secure funds from private sector corporations, philanthropists and foundations.

In addition, Rotary reaches out to governments worldwide to obtain vital financial and technical support. Through this skillful advocacy work, Rotary members have helped deliver more than US$ 1 billion of funding to the program from donor governments. That amount, combined with direct funds from Rotary, is more than half the money needed for the entire global polio eradication program.

As a major donor nation in this effort, the United States has contributed US$682.5 million to the global polio eradication effort since 1995. Other countries such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom are also major financial donors to this historic health initiative.

In 1985, Rotary International served as the catalyst for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative by setting the goal to immunize all the world's children against the disease by Rotary's 100th anniversary in 2005.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. There are approximately 1.2 million Rotarians who are members of more than 30,000 Rotary clubs in 162 countries.


For more information, contact Vivian Fiore <mailto:fiorev@rotaryintl.org> at 847-866-3234.


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