ImageDespite a sagging global economy, Rotary clubs around the world have succeeded in raising more than US $200 million in new funding for polio eradication.  For their part, our own New Paltz club contributed a total of $5400 toward this goal.  Each of the local club members donated $100 each year over the past three years to assure that this dreaded   disease can be eradicated from every last corner of the world. 

The fundraising milestone, announced today at Rotary’s annual International Assembly in San Diego, was reached in response to a $355 million challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. All funds have been earmarked to support polio immunization activities in affected countries where this vaccine-preventable disease continues to paralyze  children.



Since 1988, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99 percent, from about 350,000 infections annually to fewer than 650 cases reported so far for 2011. The wild poliovirus now remains endemic – meaning its transmission has not been stopped – in only four countries: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. However, India on Jan. 13 marked a full calendar year without a case, paving the way for its imminent removal from the endemic list.  Unfortunately, these last efforts of eradication are more difficult because of the various strains of the virus that are manifesting themselves.  The Sabin oral vaccine that has proven itself very effective, both in preventing the disease, as well as in administering the vaccine, has now been attributed for cases of causing the disease.  This means that health officials must administer an injection rather than the oral vaccine.  The injection type vaccine requires refrigeration and trained personnel.  This fact in itself slows down the distribution of the vaccine, as well as makes the process more costly. 

This is why the funds to fight this dreaded disease is so important.  We must give it the final knockout blow, no matter the cost, and difficulty.   To date, Rotary club members worldwide have contributed more than $1 billion toward the eradication of polio, a cause Rotary took on in 1985.

Our local club has been involved with this campaign since the very start.  When in November 2007, the Gates Foundation gave Rotary a $100 million challenge grant for polio eradication; our club again went into action to help Rotary International meet the challenge. 

Rotary is a global humanitarian organization with more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. The New Paltz Rotary club consists of more than 30 members, men and women, who are business, professional and community leaders with a commitment to make the world a better place through living up to the Rotary Motto of Service above Self.