In 1988, our Rotary decided to take on the scourge of polio, a disease caused by a virus for which science had developed a way to prevent.  By that time the Salk and Sabin vaccines were well distributed the first world countries had been declared polio free. The immense challenge was that half of the planet did not had access to the vaccine for reasons varying from availability to cost to education to technical issues like cold storage of the vaccine.
 
Thanks to the dedication of Rotarians and their allies and billions of dollars in global investments, endemic polio is down to three countries, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Further, Nigeria is on the verge of, after two years being free of the wild polio virus, being declared polio-free, the last African country to be cleared. A small area of the globe is now the last remaining stronghold of endemic polio (meaning that the wild virus is in the environment). This small area of the world where our polio workers have been harmed and clinics have been destroyed, polio cases, not surprisingly, have grown. In fact, there was a period of time when the World Health Organization suspended immunization efforts out of fear for harm to our workers.
 
Rotary, being a worldwide non-partisan organization, has specific rules against taking sides in political or religious disputes  and cannot solve this problem. We must rely on international diplomacy. At the same time the polio virus is only a car ride or a plane trip away so that a disease anywhere is a disease everywhere. The silver lining is that people on every side of every issue have children, children they love and children that they want to keep safe from harm.
 
Our Rotary strategy at this point is to continue immunization efforts across the world to keep polio from spreading and to do as much as we can in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.  There is some softening in the region which allows us to give more children the life-saving polio drops but that effort will not be evident for some time. Please view the weekly reports at the left for the historical prospective on our work and reference PolioEradication.org for the most current information.