About this class

In honor of World Polio Day, which is widely recognized on October 24, the Rotary Clubs of Oshawa and Oshawa-Parkwood and Durham College, on behalf of the 11 Rotary Clubs in Durham Region (plus Port Hope) are co-hosting and livestreaming “World Polio Day 2023 LIVE from the Rotary Global Classroom at Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada” located in the Centre for Collaborative Education on Thursday, October 19, 2023.

During the World Polio Day 2023 event at Durham College, we will see Rotary’s latest efforts to eradicate polio from our planet, as we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

We will hear, by way of video, from Gordon McInally (President of Rotary International 2023-24), Stephanie Urchick (President of Rotary International 2024-25), Jennifer Jones (President of Rotary International 2022-23), Michael McGovern (Chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee), and Valarie Wafer (Past Rotary International Vice-President and Director) as they talk about Rotary’s world-wide efforts to eradicate polio from the world.

We will hear about experiences with polio from Durham Region resident and polio survivor Ajith Panagoda, interviewed by Ken Hurst (Past President, Rotary Club of Ajax) and Durham College International Student Hafsa Faisal.

Dr. Bob Scott – (Past Vice President of Rotary International, Past Chair of the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation and Past Chair of the Rotary International PolioPlus Committee) will then update the world-wide audience about Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio.

Joining us for the LIVE panel discussion will be Dr Bob ScottBarry Rassin (Past Rotary International President and current Chair of the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation), and Dr. Tunji Funsho (Chair Emeritus of Polio Plus in Nigeria) as they all discuss what Rotary is doing to eradicate polio, the challenges ahead, and what we can do to help.

We will see proclamations indicating October 24 as World Polio Day, being presented to the 11 Rotary Clubs in Durham Region from Durham Regional Chair John Henry (a fellow Rotarian), thanking these local Rotary Clubs for their efforts to raise funds and create awareness about our efforts to eradicate polio from the face of the earth.

We will also see End Polio Now Flags flying high over many of the cities in Durham Region, the municipality of 700,000, just east of Toronto.

We will take as many questions as possible from our viewers and direct them to our LIVE panel members.

We encourage our viewers to join the 100 guests who will be in the Rotary Global Classroom, as the Rotary Clubs of Oshawa and Oshawa-Parkwood partner with Durham College to present World Polio Day 2023 LIVE from Oshawa, Ontario, Canada and see for yourself how close we are to eradicating polio from this world.


The world is on the verge of eliminating one of the most dreaded diseases of the 20th century -- poliomyelitis. During the first half of the 20th century, polio crippled over a half a million people every year. Even today, children in some developing countries continue to fall victim to the disease. But thanks in large part to Rotary International and to the 1.4 million Rotary members worldwide, including the Durham Region Rotary Clubs, the disease will soon be all but a memory. 

As World Polio Day draws closer, the world is 99.9 percent polio-free, but the fight to end polio is not over, and Rotary Clubs world-wide continue to raise funds to meet the challenge.

When Rotary and its partners launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, there were 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries every year. We’ve made great progress against the disease since then. Today, polio cases have been reduced by 99.9 percent, to 7 cases so far this year – 2 in Pakistan, and 5 in Afghanistan. We remain committed to the end.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, formed in 1988, is a public-private partnership that includes Rotary, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and PreventionUNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and governments of the world. Rotary’s focus is advocacy, fundraising, volunteer recruitment and awareness-building.

Since 1985, Rotary members world-wide have contributed nearly US$2.2 billion to help immunize nearly 3 billion children against polio, and we have helped secure billions of dollars from donor governments worldwide. Because of the efforts of Rotary and its partners, nearly 19.4 million people who would otherwise have been paralyzed are walking, and more than 1.5 million people are alive who would otherwise have died.

Coinciding with World Polio Day, Rotary is ramping up its advocacy work in the 200 countries and regions where Rotary clubs exist, to encourage every national government to commit to the funding levels needed to close the gap.

With polio nearly eradicated, Rotary and its partners must sustain this progress and continue to reach every child with the polio vaccine. Without full funding and political commitment, this paralyzing disease could return to polio-free countries, putting children everywhere at risk. Since 2020, and again during this Rotary year, Rotarians have been challenged to raise US$50 million each year to support global polio eradication efforts. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has again pledged to match that 2 for 1, for a yearly annual contribution of $150 million. 

Today, polio remains endemic only in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But it’s crucial we continue to work to keep other countries polio-free. If all eradication efforts stopped today, within 10 years, polio could paralyze as many as 200,000 children each year.



Gordon McInally, Rotary International President 2023-24

Gordon R. McInally, a member of the Rotary Club of South Queensferry, Lothian, Scotland, is a gradua...

Stephanie Urchick, Rotary International President 2024-25

Stephanie A. Urchick, of the Rotary Club of McMurray, Pennsylvania, USA, will be the second woman to...

Jennifer Jones, Rotary International President 2022-23

Jennifer E. Jones, a member of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland, Ontario, Canada, has been nomina...

Michael K. McGovern, Chair of Rotary International Polio Plus Committee

Mike McGovern joined Rotary in 1986 as a member of the Rotary Club of South Portland-Cape Elizabeth,...

Valarie K. Wafer, Rotary International Vice President 2021-22 & Director 2020-22

Valarie Wafer joined Rotary in 2005 in order to fuel her passion for making an impact that matters. ...

Dr. Bob Scott, Rotary International Past Vice-President and Past Chair of Rotary International Polio Plus Committee

Bob was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, and received a medical degree with distinction in de...

Barry Rassin, Rotary International Past President and current Chair of the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation

Barry Rassin is a director and former president of Doctors Hospital Health System in Nassau, Bahamas

Dr. Tunji Funsho, Chair of Rotary’s Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee

Chair of Rotary’s Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee, Tunji, a cardiologist based in Lagos, Nige...