During the upcoming Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, world leaders will gather to push for continued commitment and resources to #endpolio once and for all. Once polio is eradicated, it will be the second human disease in history to be wiped from the planet (following smallpox).

We are closer than ever to reaching that goal.

In 1988, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) – whose partners include the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rotary International, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – launched a worldwide effort to eradicate polio. Thanks to the hard work of GPEI, governments, courageous frontline health care workers, volunteers, donors, and other partners, including the UN Foundation, we’ve made tremendous progress.

But the fight isn’t over. Here are five numbers to inspire you to join the effort to finish the job against polio.

  1. Over a 99.9% reduction in polio cases: The number of polio cases has decreased from an estimated 350,000 cases per year in the late 1980s to just 37 reported cases of wild polio virus in 2016 – the lowest number ever.
  2. 16 million walking: Since GPEI launched, the world’s effort to eradicate polio has saved more than 16 million people from paralysis and roughly 1.5 million lives.
  3. Only 3 endemic countries: Polio remains endemic in just three countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. This means that transmission of wild polio virus has never been stopped in these countries. Until this happens, other countries are at risk of importing polio.
  4. Failure could result in up to 200,000 new cases annually: As long as polio remains anywhere, it’s a threat everywhere. According to WHO, failure to eradicate polio could, within 10 years, result in as many as 200,000 new cases worldwide every year.
  5. $20-25 billion in savings: Economic models estimate that eradicating polio would save the world between US$20-25 billion in the years following eradication.

But most importantly, ending polio means that no child will ever suffer the effects of permanent paralysis, or lose their life, to this terrible disease.

We are closer than ever to ridding the world of polio, but completing the final stretch will require resources and commitment. To reach more than 400 million children annually for the next few years with vaccines and to ensure the surviving virus is wiped out, the polio eradication program needs an additional US$1.5 billion in funding.

You can help by joining the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and the UN Foundation’sShot@Life campaign, which are working with the UN and other partners to make sure that every child has access to the vaccines he or she needs to stay safe from polio. Help put a stop to polio today.

[Photo: UN Photo/JC McIlwaine]