On 24 October, World Polio Day, Rotary will bring together partners from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative for an update on our fight to end polio. As host and moderator of the event, our organization plays a key role in amplifying one of the most important public health concerns in modern history.
When we first took it up as an organizational cause over three decades ago, polio affected 350,000 children every year, mostly in lower-income countries where poor sanitation and limited access to clean water facilitate the spread of the virus.
Our collaboration with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, local health workers, and national governments has helped reduce the number of cases to just 74 last year. When the final case is behind us, polio will be only the second disease, after smallpox, ever to have been completely wiped out.
This year’s event, the fourth to be live-streamed and the first to be held at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, is our opportunity to put the fight to end polio in the public eye.