World Polio Day is recognized internationally on October 24 each year. Rotary International and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative made the historic announcement several weeks ago that Africa is free of the wild polio virus. Nigeria was the last African country where polio was endemic, and it was declared wild polio-free last year. Now, Pakistan and Afghanistan remain as the world’s only polio-endemic countries.
I am not on the front lines of the effort to eliminate polio, which could become the second human disease to be eradicated (smallpox was the first). I have not participated in a polio vaccination campaign, I have not accompanied health workers and volunteers on community visits, and I have not assisted scientists in predicting and managing polio outbreaks.
However, I’ve helped make these efforts possible, as have tens of thousands of Rotary members worldwide, through regular donations to the Rotary Foundation. Rotary has empowered us to contribute in a meaningful way to a historic effort that has positively affected individuals, families, and communities. More than 19 million people who would have been paralyzed by polio are walking, and 1.5 million people who would have died from the disease are alive.
This year, you can be a part of history by donating your time, your funds, or your voice to rid the world of polio forever.