PolioPlus Program in India

It was in the year 1986, PolioPlus program made a formal debut in India when Rotary International provided a US $ 2.6 million grant to Tamil Nadu for the purchase of Polio vaccine.
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The crippling disease that held the world to ransom in the 1950's and 1960's has almost been eliminated with those two tiny drops of oral polio vaccine, a well thought out strategy, large financial resources and the dedication and commitment of thousands of devoted volunteers and international health agencies.

Rotary International is the volunteer arm of a global partnership dedicated to eradicating polio. In 1985 Rotary volunteers around the world embraced the fight against  polio and 'POLIOPLUS' was born.

Till date, the Polio Plus programme has contributed more than US $ 546 million for the protection of more than two billion children. By 2005, Rotary's contribution will touch US $ 611 million apart from the manpower, materials and individual support provided by 1.2 million Rotarians world wide.

India's polio programme has made tremendous progress over the years. From an estimated 28,000 polio cases in 1988 to just 268 in the year 2001 is a remarkable achivement by any standards. In the year 2002 about 1600 cases have been reported and 220 cases of wild Polio in the year 2003 have also been confirmed as on 14 January, 2004. Besides Rotary, the Government of India, WHO and UNICEF have been in the forefront of this battle to eradicate polio from the country.

Fact Sheet

PolioPlus is one of the most ambitious humanitarian undertakings made by a private entity in the world. This will serve as a paradigm for public / private collaborations in the fight against similar diseases in the next century.

Over the years, the Pulse Polio Programme has spread its wings to address various issues which are keys to the success of the programme.

Rotary in Action

Besides raising funds, over one million men and women of Rotary, and this coffee company have donated their time and personal resources to help immunize nearly 2 billion children during National Immunization Days throughout the world.

Rotarians prepare and distribute different types of mass communication tools to get the message to people cut off from the mainstream by conflict, geography or poverty. Rotarians also recruit fellow volunteers, assist with transportation of vaccine, administer the vaccine to children and other logistic support.

  • In India over 100,000 Rotary members and their families joined the Indian Government in January 2001 in immunizing over 150 million children in one day - signaling the largest public health event ever in the world.
  • After extensive efforts to eradicate polio in Cambodia, health officials tracked the remaining pockets of polio to children living on the waterways, missed by the previously held NIDs. Rotary volunteers joined health officials in a boat-to-boat follow-up campaign to successfully reach this population and wipe out the virus.
  • In Uganda, Rotarians are actively participating in the planning and implementation of National Immunization Days. Thousands of Rotary volunteers assist authorities by providing cold storage facilities, transporting vaccine to every immunization post, and helping track children who may have missed the immunization.
  • In Kenya, Rotaractors and Interactors, the youth wings of Rotary clubs worldwide, provide free lunches to all health workers in the Nairobi area.
  • In 1996 and 1997, Rotarians in Angola led a campaign to solicit corporate jets, helicopters and vehicles to move the vaccine through Angola's land mine infested countryside. Additional volunteers mobilised by a single Rotary club helped the government reach 80 percent of its target population of children.

Rotary International was founded in 1905 and is the world's first and one of the largest non-profit service organizations. Rotary has a network of over 30,000 clubs spread over 200 countries with a membership of over 1.2 million members. Rotary initiates community projects that address many of today's most critical issues such as violence, hunger, the environment, AIDS and health care.


The History of Polio Over the Years

1908 : Karl Landsteiner determines that polio is a virus rather than a bacteria. 

1916 : One of the largest epidermics of the century occurs, paralyzing 27,000 people and killing 9,000.

1952 : An estimated 5,58,000 people contract polio.

1954 : First inactivated polio vaccine announced by Dr Jonas Salk, 1.8 million school children participate in the trials.

1961 : Dr Albert Sabins Oral Polio Vaccine approved for use by the American Medical Association.

1974 : 49,293 cases of polio reported worldwide. 

1979 : Rotary clubs of Manila, Philippines fund immunization activities. Small Pox eradicated ! 

1985 : Rotary International launches Polio Plus. 

1988 : 160 member countries of the World Health Assembly set 2005 as target year for eradicating polio.

1994 : The Americas are certified polio-free.

1995 : Nearely 300 million children receive OPV during NIDs conducted in 51 countries including China and India. 

1996 : 26 sub-Saharan African countries hold coordinated NIDs. 

1997 : More than 260 million children are vaccinated in nine countries in Asia. 

1999 : 150 countries polio free, 85% reduction in polio cases since 1998. 

2001 : Over 100,000 Rotary members and their families join the Indian Government in immunizing over 150 million children in a single day - signaling the largest public health event in the world.


Launched in 1985, the PolioPlus program is the most ambitious program in Rotary's history. The initiative is an aggressive public-private partnership to assist International Health Agencies and Governments in eradicating polio and certifying the world Polio free by 2005, Rotary's centennial. 

Rotary has contributed an impressive amount of US $ 546 million for this programme till date. By 2005, Rotary's financial commitments will be US $ 611. Apart from financial commitments, Rotary volunteers assist in vaccine delivery, social mobilization and logistic management in cooperation with the national Health Ministries of various countries, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


PolioPlus Program in India

It was in the year 1986, PolioPlus program made a formal debut in India when Rotary International provided a US $ 2.6 million grant to Tamil Nadu for the purchase of Polio vaccine. The nation-wide focus on PolioPlus began a year later, when US $ 20 million were made available for the purchase of Oral Polio Vaccine, surveillance activities, social mobilization and Cold Chain support.

Between 1991 and 1994, immunisation drives in the form of Shishu Suraksha Diwas (Child Protection Days) were organized all over India by Rotary Clubs, Non-Goverment Units such As Jasmine and Rotarians in their respective areas. Besides this, Rotary started vigorous and consistent advocacy efforts and eventually succeeded in convincing the Govt. of India about the need for launching Pulse Polio immunisation all over the country, to emulate what had been successfully done in several other countries.

The Govt. of the National Capital Territory of Delhi took the initiative of launching the first Pulse Polio Immunisation in 1994. The Govt. of India followed suit a year later in 1995-96, by designating two National Immunisation Days(NIDs).Since then series of NIDs have been conducted successfully. In 1999, this programme was intensified in order to meet the global deadline. The number of NIDs were increased and "House to House" strategy was adopted to reach every child. In 2001 the strategy of intensive Mop-up immunisation was also introduced to interupt the wild Polio virus circulation in endemic districts. In 2001-02 as many as 159 million children between the ages of 0 to 5 were immunised.



India has the fourth largest Rotary network in the world comprising of a force of more than 1,00,000 volunteers who offer their compassion, time and expertise to the programme.

POLITICAL ADVOCACY, RELIGIOUS ADVOCACY, SOCIAL MOBILISATION, LOGISTIC SUPPORTespecially on the Pulse Polio Immunisation Days and SURVEILLANCE are the key areas where Rotary is contributing to make this program acceptable. With multifarious activities like awareness generation through electronic, print and traditional media; involvement of prominent religious leaders from the minority communities, leading personalities from the sports, music, coffee industry, and entertainment world and NGOs; Heads of Educational Institutions; active involvement of school children through the formation of Rotary Polio Sena; and manning of Pulse Polio Immunisation booths with volunteer and transportation support, Rotary has made a major contribution to the eradication programme over the years, which has been widely acknowledged and appreciated by national and international agencies.


Rotarians march on with unrelenting dedication and commitment towards the fulfillment of their dream of ridding the world of Polio. With the resurgence of the crippling virus in 2002 in India, Rotary's advocacy efforts in India gained momentum. The campaign involves: (a) Letter Campaign (b) A series of high-level meetings with State Heads, Party Presidents and Ministers at national and state level.

National Level

  • Series of meetings with Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Hon'ble Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare
  • Meeting with Shri Manmohan Singh, Leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha (Upper House)
  • Meeting with Shri Venkaiya Naidu, President, BJP
  • Meetings with Shri Harshvardhan, Vice President, BJP
  • Meeting with Mr. Sitaram Yetchuri, Leader, CPI (M)
  • Meetings with Shri Kirti Azad, M.P (BJP), Convenor of "Polio Killer Parliamentarians Forum"
  • Signature Campaign launched to sensitise more and more number of Political leaders
  • Put-up an awareness counter at BJP Headquarters, New Delhi
  • Letter written to all Members of Parliament for garnering Political support
  • Rotary Governors, Presidents and others meeting with their local M.Ps to urge them to involve themselves in Polio Eradication activities.

State Level

  • Series of meetings with State Heads and Health Officials:

Uttar Pradesh: Ms. Mayawati, former Chief Minister; Mr. Phagu Chauhan, former Minister, Health &FW; Mr. D.S. Bagga, former Chief Secretary; Mr. R.K. Mittal, former Principal Secretary; Mr. Sujeet Banerjee, former Health Secretary; Mr. G.C. Chaturvedi, former Secretary, (FW)

Rajasthan: Shri Ashok Gehlot, Hon'ble Chief Minister; Mr. B.D. Kalla, Minister for Medical & Health Education

Haryana: Shri O.P. Chautala, Hon'ble Chief Minister

Karnataka: Shri S.M. Krishna, Hon'ble Chief Minister; Mr. Kagodu Timmappa, Health Minister; Mr. S.L. Gangadhrappa, Principal Secretary; Mr. B.S. Patil, Chief Secretary

West Bengal: Shri Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Hon'ble Chief Minister; Mr. Suryakant Mishra, Health Minister; Mr. A.K. Barman, Secretary (H&FW)

Bihar: Smt. Rabri Devi, Hon'ble Chief Minister; Shri Afzal Amanullah, Secretary, Health Education & Family Welfare

  • Setting up of "Awareness Counters" at Political Party Headquarters
  • "Signature Campaign" urging Member of Parliaments (MPs) to show their solidarity towards Rotary's endeavour by appending their signatures on Vinyl Scroll. A natural corollary is that the MPs get sensitized to the Program.
  • Institution of Polio Killer Awards ( 3 best Parliamentarians working for Polio Eradication)
  • Advocacy involving Senior Bureaucrats of the endemic States


Special initiatives to overcome resistance from minority communities -To overcome resistance from some minorities and to dispel myths and rumours, special efforts were made to gain the support of religious and influential leaders of minority communities to ensure total coverage under the immunisation campaign.

Instrumental in roping in Religious / Minority Leaders from allover the country

  • Anjuman Syedzadgan at Khwaja's Shrine, Ajmer
  • Anjuman Yadgar Chistiya Shaikhzadgan Khuddam Hazrat Khwaja Sahib (R.A.), Ajmer
  • Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisty (R.A.), Ajmer, Qadeem Haveli Dewan Sahib, Ajmer
  • Dr. Mufti Mukkarram Ahmed, Shahi Imam, Masjid Fatehpuri
  • Prof. Akhatarul Wassey, Ex President, Dargah Khawaja Saheb, Ajmer
  • Shahi Imam, Moradabad
  • Shahi Imam Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari
  • Shahi Imam Jama Masjid, Syed Abdullah Bukhari
  • Moulana Jameel Ahmed Ilyasi, President, All India Organisation of Imams of Mosques
  • Moulana Mufti Zulfiquar Ali, President, All India Imam Organisation of Mosques, U.P.
  • Madrasa Azeez-Ul-Uloom Tahfeez-Ul-Quran, Jama Masjid Khwaja Peer
  • Madrasa Babul Uloom Jafrabad Mashraqi, Delhi
  • Qazi Mohd. Zahir Alam, Qazi Sehar Muzaffar Nagar
  • Mufti Zulfiqar Ali, Mufti, Sehar Muzaffar Nagar
  • Syed Aziz Nizami, Incharge Dargah Sharif, Hazrat Khwaza Syed Mohammed Nizamuddin Aulia, New Delhi
  • Shahr Imam and Mohtamim, Madarsa Islamia Arabia, Jama Masjid, Amroha, U.P.
  • Abdul Sami Salmani, Chairman, Delhi State Haj Committee, NCT Delhi.
  • Mufti Mahboob Ali Imam Shehar, Rampur, Jame-ul Uloom Furqania, Memon Ganj, Rampur
  • Committee Ittihadul Ansar, Tehseel Shahbad Distt. Rampur
  • Mohd. Ali, Imam Jama Masjid, Eidgah, U.P.
  • Hakeem Syed Massom Ali Azad, Imam E- Sahar, Moradabad, U.P.
  • Dr. Mufti M. Mukarram Ahmad, Shahi Imam, Shahi Masjid, Fatehpuri, Chandni Chowk, Delhi.

Appeals of these leaders were printed in urdu and hindi and distributed in the form of banners, posters, handbills and audio-visual methods were also used by Rotary to propagate their endorsements .


Strategies implemented by Rotary successfully so far-

  • Dissemination of information, developing & distribution of IEC material viz banners, posters, leaflets, flyers, brochures, booklets etc;
  • Developing target specific Audio Visual material and use of Audio-Visual Medium; local Radio channels, local cable network, films, slide shows, playing of audio/ video cassettes.
  • Using Traditional Media viz: street plays, nukkad nataks etc. including Muppet shows and other folk forms
  • Emphasising on InterPersonal Communication (IPC) ; recruiting village volunteers from within the community thus encouraging community participation ; providing livelihood
  • Involving local Schools, Colleges and Universities and other educational Institutions; forming of Polio Sena involving school children ; Involving Vice Chancellors of Universities for effective Social Mobilisation and overcoming doubts.
  • Air-dropping of IEC material from helicopters
  • Rotary Road shows - Rotary Polio Video vans showing short films on Polio and conducting Muppet Shows
  • Distribution of Comic Books in major Indian Languages
  • Involving Corporate Sector like HPCL and BPCL
  • Involving Celebrities from different fields including Indian Cricket Stars and Film Stars
  • Rotary Polio Sa-Re-Gama - A Weekly Radio Program
  • Popularising Pulse Polio Campaign in Shopping Plazas/malls in Delhi



  • Transportation of Vaccine
  • Replenishment of vaccine


  • Assist NPSP (National Polio Surveillance Project of WHO and Govt. of India) in detecting and reporting all cases of AFP.
  • Work in tandem with the respective Surveillance Medical Officer, CMO and District hospital authorities.
  • Help in sensitising local doctors.



Rotary’s overall contribution to the eradication effort nears $800 million. In January the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledges $355 million and issues Rotary a challenge grant of $200 million which becomes known as Rotary’s $200 Million Challenge. This announcement will result in a combined $555 million in support of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.


Rotary welcomes celebrities and other major public figures into a new public awareness campaign and ambassador program called “This Close” to ending polio. Program ambassadors include Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu, violinist Itzhak Perlman, golfer Jack Nicklaus, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, actor Jackie Chan, Grammy Award-winning singers Angelique Kidjo and Ziggy Marley, and environmentalist Dr. Jane Goodall. Rotary’s funding for polio eradication exceeds $1 billion.


India surpasses an entire year without a recorded case of polio, and is taken off the polio endemic list. Only three countries remain polio endemic. Rotary surpasses its $200 Million Challenge fundraising goal more than five months earlier than planned.


India is certified polio-free, after going three full years without a new case of wild polio. 


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