The Global Fight to End Polio

Thirty years ago, Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Unicef, and the World Health Organization set out on a quest to stamp out polio worldwide. And, in 2013 The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joined in the fight to eliminate polio.
Today, that goal seems within reach because for the first time in history only two polio endemic countries remain: Pakistan and Afghanistan. Both countries shifted their focus to the children who are being missed on vaccination campaigns in order to bring this number down and remove the final hiding places of the virus. In Pakistan this has resulted in almost half a million children being protected against polio who were previously missed. Afghanistan has taken steps to improve its program through strengthened political commitment and coordination, and large swaths of the country remain polio free.

Here is some background information on Rotary’s partners in the fight to end polio.
The World Health Organization (WHO) coordinates the major strategic planning, management, and administration processes of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. WHO is responsible for the systematic collection, collation and dissemination of standardized information on strategy implementation and impact, particularly in the areas of surveillance and supplementary immunization activities. WHO also coordinates operational and basic research, provides technical and operational support to ministries of health, and coordinates training and deployment of human resources for supplementary technical assistance.
Unicef distributes polio vaccines through National Immunization Days and other campaigns and helps countries develop communication strategies vital to the acceptance of the vaccine on a local level. Unicef also contributes to the development of policies, action plans, training materials and mobilization.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deploys epidemiologists, public health experts, and scientists to WHO and UNICEF for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. It also provides funding for the oral polio vaccine and for a wide range of technical expertise and laboratory support. CDC works as a 'viral detective', using its state-of-the-art virological surveillance expertise (genetic fingerprinting) to investigate outbreaks of polio, identify the strain of poliovirus involved and pinpoint its exact geographical origin.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private funding source to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, contributing over $1.3 billion to the fight against polio. In addition, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation coordinates high-level government advocacy and valuable partnerships. The Foundation issued a $355 million challenge grant to Rotary International which it recently met with an additional $200 million in funding for polio eradication.
Thanks in large part to these polio workers, as well as innovative shifts in strategy, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the only two countries that have never stopped polio transmission, have also been able to make significant progress toward eradication. The global health community is optimistic about achieving full, worldwide eradication by 2019.