Two Drops of Patience: UNICEF and Rotary's Fight to Eradicate Polio
We're closer than ever to ending polio. In 2017, UNICEF engaged in polio eradication programs in more than 50 countries. Please support UNICEF's efforts to vaccinate every single child against preventable childhood diseases.
Polio is a highly contagious, paralyzing and potentially fatal disease that can strike at any age, but mainly affects children under age 5. Polio is incurable, but easily preventable with a simple vaccine. There are just three countries that have never stopped transmission of polio: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
To stay polio-free, countries must maintain high routine immunization and sensitive surveillance. In 1988, UNICEF and Rotary International formed a partnership dedicated to eradicating polio worldwide once and for all. Every year, hundreds of Rotary members work side-by-side with health workers to vaccinate children in polio-affected countries.
Travel with Rotary volunteer Patience Asiimwe in 360-degree virtual reality to a remote region of northeastern Uganda to vaccinate children who otherwise might be missed:
Since UNICEF and Rotary began their partnership, both organizations, as members of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, have played a fundamental role in dramatically decreasing the number of polio-endemic countries. Just 22 polio cases were confirmed worldwide in 2017, a reduction of more than 99.9 percent since the 1980s, when the world saw about 1,000 cases per day.
We are closer than ever before to eradicating this disease. This means a world in which every child would be safe from the paralysis the virus causes, and no family would ever have to bear the emotional and financial costs of the disease again. This would be only the second human disease in history that we’ve wiped off the face of the earth — a milestone that every member of the polio community, from health workers to donors and public health officials, will be a part of accomplishing.
Top photo: Rotary volunteers traveled to a remote region of northeastern Uganda to vaccinate children against polio. © Jon Riera for Rotary International