Senate Approves Kirk-Durbin Resolution to Honor and Support Global Efforts to Eradicate Polio

[WASHINGTON, DC] – The United States Senate last night unanimously approved a resolution introduced by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) supporting the goals and ideals of World Polio Day. The resolution also commends the international community for taking steps to prevent and fully eradicate this deadly disease. World Polio Day is recognized internationally every year to mark the progress made to end polio and advocate for a polio-free world. Global eradication is imminently achievable with polio prevalent only in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.


“Polio is a cruel disease, one that has historically caused considerable pain here in the United States, and abroad,” Durbin said. “But thanks to the effort of groups like Chicago's Rotary International, today, polio is present in only three countries worldwide: Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Unfortunately, recent setbacks in places like the Horn of Africa and Syria are a reminder of the final hurdles we must still overcome. The complete worldwide eradication of polio is imminently achievable. I am proud to join Senator Kirk and our Senate colleagues today in recognizing the important achievements we have made and urging a sustained commitment to finally eradicating this disease once and for all.”


“Before its full elimination from our country in 1979, Polio's debilitating effects touched the lives of nearly 60,000 Americans,” Kirk said. “With more than 20 million volunteers worldwide, organizations like Rotary International, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations Children's Fund have made huge strides in treating this disease and those suffering on a global scale. We must honor World Polio Day and aid those still fighting this disease until our world is polio-free.”


Rotary International, an international association founded in 1905 in Chicago, Illinois and now headquartered in Evanston, Illinois, has made eradicating polio globally one of its top priorities. With more than 1.2 million members throughout more than 170 countries, Rotary International has been a key contributor to reducing outbreaks of polio worldwide. Since 1988 the number of cases of polio has been reduced by 99%, from 350,000 cases reported annually to less than 223 cases reported in 2012 as a result of the efforts and support from Rotary International, World Health Organization (WHO), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Foundation, the United States and other national governments.


The recent polio outbreaks in the Horn of Africa and Syria underscore the importance of achieving full eradication before progress is lost. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative has released a strategic endgame plan to eradicate polio in the next five years and ensure a polio-free world for future generations. 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. Kirk and Durbin’s resolution commends this investment and encourages the United States’ continued commitment to the global effort to rid the world of polio.