Durbin, Kirk Resolution Commending Rotary Internation for Polio Eradication Efforts Passes the U,S, Senate Unanimously

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – The United States Senate last night unanimously approved a resolution introduced by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) commending Rotary International and other organizations for their efforts to prevent and eradicate polio around the world. The resolution, S. Res. 473, encourages the international community to remain committed to the effort to fully eliminate polio worldwide. Polio was successfully eradicated from India in January, 2011, and is currently found in only three countries: Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.


“Although polio was eradicated in the United States more than 30 years ago, there are still men, women and children in a few corners of the globe who are stricken with this preventable virus because they lack access to the vaccine. Rotary International, a Chicago-based organization, and volunteer Rotarians have donated more than one billion dollars and volunteered countless hours vaccinating children to make the full eradication of this cruel disease a reality around the world. Their work is literally saving lives. We are closer than ever to ending the scourge of polio and I commend the work of the Rotary and many others in advancing that goal,” Durbin said.


“Rotary International remains a key contributor to the health and educational development of communities both at home and abroad,” said a spokesperson for Senator Kirk. “Rotarians have consistently worked with national governments and international organizations to successfully reduce outbreaks of polio worldwide and a polio free world is a lasting gift to our children and grandchildren.”


At its peak, polio outbreaks in the United States affected 57,000 people annually, paralyzing 21,000 Americans and killing 3,000; however, vaccines developed in 1952 and 1957 contributed to the disease’s rapid decline, and the United States has been polio-free since 1979. Given the availability of an effective vaccine, Rotary International, a global association that was founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1905, has made the worldwide eradication of polio one of its highest priorities. It is currently headquartered in Evanston, Illinois, and has 1,200,000 members in more than 170 countries contributing to this effort around the globe. With assistance from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, the United States and other national governments, Rotary International has helped reduce cases of polio by more than 99% since 1988 from 350,000 cases reported annually to less than 700 cases reported in 2011.


Earlier this year, WHO declared polio eradication a “programmatic emergency” in order to help stimulate efforts in the remaining polio-infected areas of Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The United States government remains the leading public sector donor to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and provides technical and operational assistance through the Centers for Disease Control and United States Agency for International Development. Durbin and Kirk’s resolution commends this investment and encourages the United States’ continued commitment to the global effort to rid the world of polio.


A copy of the resolution can be viewed here.