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Polio Eradication Initiative


India Declares Zero Cases of Polio in the Past Year

Polio Eradication Initiative

Polio, which can cause lifelong paralysis, can be prevented with a vaccine that costs only $0.50. In the 1980s, polio paralyzed at least 1,000 children every day all over the world, but today, after international efforts to immunize every child everywhere, 5 million people are walking who would otherwise be paralyzed and the world is almost polio-free.

The success is the result of an improved vaccine and the intense efforts over the past several years by the Global Polio Eradication Partnership, a partnership that includes Rotary International, the UN Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and WHO. Since the Initiative’s inception in 1988, the number of polio cases has dropped by 99 percent.

At the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative, UN Foundation Chairman Ted Turner and President Timothy E. Wirth announced with Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations H.E. Khalid Abdalrazaq Al-Nafisee a $30 million commitment from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to polio eradication. This contribution will go towards vaccinations, education and awareness for eliminating polio worldwide. In addition to the important financial commitment, Saudi Arabia, the Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques, is also requiring every pilgrim entering the Kingdom for the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, to receive a polio vaccination. This is a huge step in the fight against polio because it helps to dispel misconceptions about the safety of vaccines and underscores that polio immunizations are not only appropriate, but essential.   

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