On World Polio Day, 24 October, Rotarians around the globe show their support for ending the disease, which still strikes young children in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
For more than two decades, eradicating polio has been Rotary's No. 1 priority. Through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary has come "this close" to its goal. The number of polio cases worldwide has dropped 99 percent since 1985, and the virus remains endemic in only four countries -- Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
India has reported only one case of the virus this year, as of 12 October, compared to 39 cases during the same period in 2010.
But much work remains. The final 1 percent of cases presents the most difficult and expensive challenge. Failure would open the door to a resurgence of the disease that would put millions of children at risk of lifelong paralysis. Eradicating polio would free up billions of dollars to address other world problems.