Founded in 1905, Rotary International is the world's first and one of the largest non-profit service organizations. It has a network of over 32,000 clubs spread over 168 countries and a membership of over 1.2 million around the globe. Rotary initiates community projects that address many of today's most critical issues such as violence, hunger, the environment, AIDS and health care.


1908 :

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


1916 :

One of the largest epidemics of the century occurs, paralyzing 27,000 people and killing 9,000.

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 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.

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 PolioPlus.

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 :

Nearly 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 on a single day - signaling the largest public health event in the world.

2004: A record no of 170 million children immunized on a single day.

More than 170 million children got immunized during the last NID.

  • 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.