When a child receives their life saving polio drops on mass polio immunisation days in many countries their little finger is painted with a purple dye so it is clear they have received their life saving vaccine. The resulting mark on the child's finger was observed to look just like the petals of an opening purple crocus, hence the birth of the crocus symbol for Polio Eradication. The Purple4Polio initiative here in Great Britain and Ireland was designed to unite Rotary club activities engaging with local communities to help raise the vital funding needed to wipe polio off the face of the earth.
Rotary’s pledge for a polio free world was made in 1985 when there were 125 polio endemic countries and hundreds of new cases every single day. In 2017 there were only 22 cases in the entire world but as long as there is one single case anywhere children everywhere are at risk.
Thanks to Rotary, and the support of our partners WHO, Unicef, CDC and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, there are now just three countries still classed as endemic: Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. To finish the job over 2 billion doses of oral polio vaccine have to be administered each and every year in over 60 countries until the world is finally certified polio free.
more Report on progress of efforts to make the world Polio Free
more Highlights from the history of Polio Eradication over the years
more Some information about Polio and links to where to find out more