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Polio cases have declined rapidly since 1985, but the fight isn't over. Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease, and for as little as US$0.60, a child can be protected against the virus for life. If we don't finish the fight right now, more than 10 million children under the age of five could be paralyzed by polio in the next 40 years.
Since Rotary helped launch the polio eradication initiative, polio cases have fallen from 350,000 a year in 125 countries to just a handful in only three countries.
Rotary clubs take on a project to buy and help deliver polio vaccine to more than six million children in the Philippines.
Rotary International launches PolioPlus, the first and largest internationally coordinated private-sector support of a public health initiative, with an initial pledge of US$120 million.
Rotarians raise US$247 million for PolioPlus, more than double their fundraising goal of $120 million. The World Health Assembly passes a resolution to eradicate polio, setting up the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. More than 125 countries are polio-endemic.
Last case of wild poliovirus in the Americas.
The Western Hemisphere is declared polio-free.
Rotarians, health workers and volunteers immunize 165 million children in China and India in a single week. Rotary launches the PolioPlus Partners program, enabling Rotarians in polio-free countries to provide financial support to their fellow Rotarians in polio-affected countries for immunization campaigns and other polio eradication activities.
The number of nations declared polio-free increases to 150. The reported incidence of polio is 85 percent less than in 1988.
The last case of wild polio occurs in the Western Pacific Region. She is a 15-month-old girl called Mum Chanty living near Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
A record 550 million children – almost one-tenth of the world's population – receive the oral polio vaccine. The Western Pacific region, spanning from Australia to China, is declared polio-free.
The Rotary Foundation raises US$119 million from its membership in a 12-month campaign. Rotary's total contribution to polio eradication exceeds $500 million. Six countries remain polio-endemic – Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan.
In Africa, synchronized National Immunization Days in 23 countries target 80 million children, the largest coordinated polio immunization effort on the continent.
The number of polio-endemic countries drops to four (Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, Pakistan), the lowest in human history at the time.
Rotary's overall contribution to the eradication effort nears US$800 million. In January the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledges US$355 million and issues Rotary a challenge grant of US$200 million which becomes known as Rotary's $200 Million Challenge. This announcement will result in a combined US$555 million in support of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Rotary welcomes celebrities and other major public figures into a new public awareness campaign and ambassador program called "This Close" to ending polio. Program ambassadors include Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu, violinist Itzhak Perlman, golfer Jack Nicklaus, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, actor Jackie Chan, Grammy Award-winning singers Angelique Kidjo and Ziggy Marley, and environmentalist Dr. Jane Goodall. Rotary's funding for polio eradication exceeds $1 billion.
India surpasses an entire year without a recorded case of polio, and is taken off the polio endemic list. Only three countries remain polio endemic. Rotary surpasses its $200 Million Challenge fundraising goal more than five months earlier than planned.