Rotary has contributed to Africa being declared wild polio-free

We have played a role in a significant global public health achievement as the World Health Organization’s Africa region has officially been certified wild polio-free.

Polio is a debilitating disease mainly affecting children, which can cause paralysis and even death. 

This incredible milestone is the result of decades of effort from Rotary clubs and volunteers around the world, who have fundraised, campaigned and worked tirelessly since Rotary pledged to rid the world of polio more than 30 years ago.

The Rotary Club of Swindon North has played its part towards the End Polio Now campaign in the recent past by holding fundraising events, making donations and arranging awareness raising activities such as purple crocus planting.

The certification comes four years after Nigeria, the last polio-endemic country in Africa, recorded its final case of wild polio and now means of the WHO’s six regions, five of those – accounting for 90% of the world’s population – are free from polio.

Globally, more than 2.5 billion children have been protected against the disease, which have reduced the number of cases by 99.9% from around 1,000 cases per day in 125 countries.

The Rotary Club of Swindon North’s President, Kathy Hobson, said, “This is a terrific landmark in the world’s battle to eradicate polio. Although it has been many years since polio has been present in the UK and Ireland, we are proud to have contributed to the global efforts to eliminate the disease for good.”

“We remain committed to making the final, challenging steps towards making a polio free world a reality.”

“If we don’t finish the job, it is estimated that, within 10 years, as many as 200,000 children annually all over the world could succumb to polio, including here in the UK. The virus can literally be a plane ride away so vaccination is so important.

Despite this significant milestone being reached, the job to fully rid the world of polio goes on, as the virus continues to circulate in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

In order to sustain this progress, vaccination programmes must continue to protect every last child and strengthen routine immunisation to keep immunity levels high, so the virus does not return to Africa or other parts of the world, including the UK.

Rotary has directly contributed more than US$2 billion to ending polio since 1985.