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End Polio Now

About End Polio Now


Eradicating Polio is Rotary's top priority and Rotary is committed to fighting Polio until every child is safe from this devastating disease.

polioplus_endpolioIn 1985, Rotary International launched Polio Plus, an ambitious programme to immunize the world's children against polio when there were approximately 1,000 new cases every day with 3 viruses endemic in 125 countries. Rotary's grassroots leadership, volunteer support and initial funding for vaccine provided the catalyst for the World Health Assembly's resolution in 1988 to eradicate polio worldwide. Spearheading partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative were the World Health Organization, Rotary International, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF.

Worldwide Rotarian fundraising for Polio continued over the years, with Polio vaccination increasing. However, in 2007 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation challenged Rotary to complete the project to match their $100 million grant to End Polio Now by raising $100 million dollars in three years.

In 2009 the Foundation allocated another $250 million, challenging Rotary to now raise $200 million by June 2012. The project was re-launched as the $200 Million Challenge to make the final push for total eradication. Each Club was challenged to raise funds each year with a target of $6,000. The resulting $550 million directly supporting immunisation campaigns in affected countries, where polio continues to infect and paralyse children, robbing them of their futures and compounding the hardships faced by their families.

$200m Target Reached

On January 17 2012 Rotary International announced that the Gates Foundation Challenge had been met 5 months early with $202.6m having been raised. By end June 2012 over $225m had been raised and in District 1160, $512,748.12 was raised which exceeded the all Ireland District target by $68,000. The Rotary Club of Belfast’s contribution of $41,855.53 is the highest RIBI Club contribution to End Polio Now and this figure does not include the substantial funds of approx. $17,000 raised at the Charity Garden Party held in June 2012.

The Gates Foundation have now announced that they will be committing an additional $50m to the project - this new grant is not a challenge grant.

Bill Gates delivered the Richard Dimbelby Lecture 2013 and described the battle to eradicate polio as one of the most difficult tasks the world has ever faced. He revealed the fight against the disease was the project he dedicated most of his time to. He praised the work of Rotary International and vowed he was committed to doing whatever it takes to win this fight. He expressed the belief that with the necessary funds, political commitment, and resolve we will eradicate Polio within six years. (The full lecture can be read here)

vaccine1_263x178  As a result of this partnership's efforts:
  • more than 2 billion children have been vaccinated,
  • polio cases have dropped by 99% since 1988
  • an estimated 5 million have been spared disability
  • over 250,000 deaths averted and
  • the world stands on the threshold of eradicating the disease.

We are "this close"...

In 2012, the effort to end polio made historic progress. The year ended with the lowest number of new polio cases in the fewest places ever. There were fewer than 250 reported cases, compared with 350,000 cases in 1985, when Rotary began the fight to end polio. Today, we are "this close" to creating a polio-free world.

Also India, recently an epicentre of the wild poliovirus, has since January 11 2011 completed 2 full calendar years without a case being recorded. However, polio still threatens children in parts of Africa and South Asia and remains endemic in three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan thus leaving other countries at risk from imported cases from there.

poliomap1 poliomap2

Bareilly2 333x250Rotary International members have also given countless hands-on volunteer hours to this critical effort. Sporting their signature yellow vests and caps, Rotarians from India and worldwide - including our own PP Marnette Lyons (shown right) have helped administer vaccines to children in India and raised polio awareness. Click on image to see report of PP Marnette's National Immunisation Day.

If we don't stay the course experts say Polio could rebound to 10 million cases in the next 40 years- it is only a plane ride away.

The threat of polio anywhere is a threat to children everywhere.

Club contributions and Awards

The Rotary Club of Belfast has a history of generous financial support for Foundation and the End Polio Now Campaign and remains committed to it. The Rotary Club of Belfast's contribution at end June 2012 of $41,855.53 was the highest Club contribution to End Polio Now in RIBI - and this figure does not include the substantial funds from the Centenary Garden Party.

This level of contributions been recognised at District and International levels and the Club is honoured to have received these awards on behalf of all the members who made them possible.

PolioCert District Chris Croft Trophy 2011-12 for the largest contribution in RIBI to RI $200 End Polio Now Challenge.
District Foundation Certificate
in recognition of achieving the target with a contribution in excess of $6,000 - January 2012.
Rotary Foundation Certificate of Appreciation for the support of the Challenge having contributed $40,000 - January 2011. 
Howard Caskie Foundation District Award 2009-10 for the highest per capita contribution to The Rotary Foundation - equivalent of £283 per member - September 2010.
60000_cheque_263x227 District Chris Croft Trophy 2008-09 for making the best effort in Foundation Service - September 2009.
Monies raised at that point meant that President Courtenay could, in 2009, present RIBI President Ian Thomson with a cheque for US$ 60,000, which, including the Gates Foundation matching funds, represented the total amount actually going to End Polio Now. Picture shows PP Gordon Millington, President Courtenay, RIBI President Ian Thompson, PP Marnette Lyons and PP Bryan Johnston. 

Thanks are due to all who have been involved.

The Club hascrocus sign 500x300 continued to raise the profile of Rotary's fundraising to rid the world of Polio, most recently in 2011 by taking part in the Rotary International in Great Britiain and Ireland's Focus on the Crocus when thousands of purple crocus bulbs were planted in the hope that they would all bloom on Rotary Day 23 February 2011. More detail here.


Fundraising efforts have covered a wide variety of facets such as concerts, ballots for cars, sponsored water-skiing, filling ‘smarties’ tubes and several social events. A few are shown below the most recent (shown right) being the Charity Garden Party held in Hillsborough Castle June 2012. (click on images for details)

Glee_290x225 Water_skiing_192x225 Hillsborough192x225
Harvard Glee Club Concert Sponsored Water-ski Hillsborough Concert

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