The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is a public-private partnership led by national governments with five partners – Rotary International, the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Our goal is to eradicate polio worldwide.


Rotary International (RI) is the world’s first and largest humanitarian service organization with a global network of 1.2 million members in more than 170 countries. Rotary began polio eradication efforts in the Republic of the Philippines in 1979, and established the PolioPlus initiative in 1985. Rotary International led the way with the vision of a polio-free world, and individual Rotarians have contributed untold time and effort to achieving that vision.  Rotary is the main private sector donor supporting polio eradication.  Within the GPEI framework, Rotary’s primary responsibilities include fundraising, advocacy, and volunteer recruitment.

The Rotary Foundation accomplishes this priority via the following two means.  

 - PolioPlus Grants. These grants support global eradication efforts in polio endemic countries and those countries that have imported the disease or are at high risk from it. Grants are made on a routine basis by the Foundation to major partner agencies, such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and national PolioPlus committee chairs. 

 - PolioPlus Partners Grants. These grants support urgent social mobilization and surveillance projects submitted by Rotary members in endemic countries and those countries that have imported the disease or are at high risk from it. Grant applications are accepted only from national PolioPlus committee chairs in priority countries. 

The Rotary Foundation has partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to triple individual Rotarian donations via a 2 for 1 match in support of the global eradication of polio.   

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations’ system.  WHO coordinates the major strategic planning, management and administration processes of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. WHO is responsible for the systematic collection, collation and dissemination of standardized information on strategy implementation and impact, particularly in the areas of surveillance and supplementary immunization activities. WHO also coordinates operational and basic research, provides technical and operational support to ministries of health, and coordinates training and deployment of human resources for supplementary technical assistance. In addition, WHO has a lead role in establishing certification-standard surveillance of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), resource mobilization, donor coordination, advocacy and communications. WHO serves as secretariat to the certification process and facilitates implementation and monitoring of biocontainment activities. 

Centers for Disease Control. The US-based Centers for Disease Control (CDC) works to protect people from health threats by conducting critical scientific research and supplying health information. CDC provides scientific and technical expertise to the GPEI through the Global Immunization Division (GID), Polio and Picornavirus Laboratory, and Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) teams. GID staff works jointly with WHO, UNICEF, and other GPEI partners, as well as national Ministries of Health, to plan and monitor polio surveillance and immunization activities in countries, and supports other eradication projects, such as tracking disease transmission trends and vaccine efficacy research. 

The Polio and Picornavirus Laboratory in CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases is a WHO Global Specialized Laboratory and delivers technical and programmatic assistance to the Global Polio Laboratory Network. CDC’s labs provide critical diagnostic services, perform genomic sequencing of polioviruses to guide eradication efforts, and help overcome specific operational challenges to enable more rapid detection of wild poliovirus and allow for faster outbreak response. STOP staffers help build capacity for acute flaccid paralysis surveillance, the gold-standard for detecting polio, as well as plan, implement, and evaluate immunization campaigns, in collaboration with GPEI partners.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) contributes to the development of eradication policies, plans of action, training materials and public information, and is an active partner in advocacy and resource mobilization. The organization procures and distributes polio vaccines for routine and supplementary immunizations. With WHO, UNICEF supports countries in the implementation of intensified National Immunization Days (NIDs) and Sub-National Immunization Days (SNIDs), as well as mop-up campaigns in countries. UNICEF helps country program leaders develop communication strategies that are vital to local acceptance of the vaccine. UNICEF also helps country leaders develop action plans and secure logistics to access hard-to-reach places, including in countries affected by conflict.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is a major supporter of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, contributing technical and financial resources to accelerate targeted vaccination campaigns, community mobilization, and routine immunizations. BMGF works with partners to improve polio surveillance and outbreak response; develop safer, more effective vaccines; and galvanize financial and political support for polio eradication efforts. BMGF has a unique ability to contribute by taking big risks and making non-traditional investments. Examples include investments in vaccine research; funding of geographic information system (GIS) maps to replace hand-drawn maps for campaign planning; and the establishment of emergency operations centers in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Other Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners include:

  • United Nations Foundation and other private foundations

  • Development banks (e.g. the World Bank)

  • Donor governments

  • European Commission

  • Humanitarian and nongovernmental organizations (e.g. the International Red Cross and Red Crescent societies)

  • Corporate partners 

  • Volunteers in developing countries.

The Rotary Club of East Jefferson County supports the eradication of polio by:

  1. Managing Club support of the global polio eradication effort by Rotary International through the Club’s Polio Plus Campaign Plan; 

  2. Establishing and pursuing an annual financial goal to support and encourage individual Rotarian donations to the Rotary International polio plus campaign; 

  3. Conducting an internal fund drive in October each year, when polio eradication efforts are highlighted throughout the month; 

  4. Hosting at least one presentation each year dedicated to The Rotary Foundation (TRF) anti-polio efforts.  

  5. Emphasizing Rotary Foundation actions that contribute to the eradication of polio throughout the year on our social media pages and website.  

Rotarians are justifiably proud of their efforts over the past 42 years to eradicate this dreaded disease, continue to robustly support the efforts of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, recognize the immeasurable contributions of people around the globe to this end, and look forward to the complete and total elimination of polio from the diseases plaguing the world’s peoples.