UNICEF and Rotary International-supported polio vaccination team in Benin.

Protecting Benin's Children From Polio

A 360-degree look at how community health workers in Benin go the distance to ensure every child receives their lifesaving polio vaccine, with support from UNICEF and Rotary International.

Although UNICEF and partners have gone to great lengths to eradicate polio across the globe, Benin — a West African nation located between Nigeria to the east and Togo to the west — is considered a polio outbreak country, with three cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) reported in 2023. 

UNICEF is on the ground in Cotonou, Benin’s largest city, providing lifesaving services. Within Cotonou is the lake community of Toyoyomin, where thousands of children and their families receive vital care — including routine polio vaccinations — from community health workers who travel by boat.

This immersive video follows Andrea, a health care worker, and local Rotarian Dorothé Gounon as they travel across the lake to vaccinate children — and get us closer to a polio-free world. 

"The situation in Benin is challenging: many people live in poverty and it’s very difficult to reach them with essential health services," says Gounon. "That’s why the partnership between Rotary International and UNICEF is so important, so we can deliver vaccines to reach every last child and eradicate polio for good."

Watch the 360-degree video to see polio vaccinators in action

UNICEF and Rotary International are working together to create a polio-free future for the world's children

Since UNICEF and Rotary began their partnership in 1988, both organizations, as members of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), have played a fundamental role in dramatically decreasing the number of polio-endemic countries. Rotary’s advocacy, fundraising and community mobilization of more than 1 million members have made possible the immunization of 3 billion children, and cases have decreased globally by an astonishing 99.9 percent.

Widespread vaccination has prevented an estimated 650,000 cases of paralysis every year and saved up to 60,000 children’s lives. Today, wild poliovirus remains endemic in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Learn more about UNICEF and Rotary International's longstanding partnership. 


TOP PHOTO: Polio vaccination teams supported by UNICEF and Rotary International travel by boat to reach children living in the island community of Toyoyomin in Benin's Lake Nokoué. © UNICEF