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Rotary announces $35 million in grants to help end polio

13 January 2016  •  Author: Victoria White

Rotary has announced $35 million in grants to support the global effort to end polio, including $15 million to support polio eradication efforts in five African countries.

polio

In 2015, Africa proved a hub of historic progress against the paralysing disease. Nigeria – the last polio-endemic country in Africa – was removed from the World Health Organization’s list of endemic countries in September, following one year without a new case of the wild virus. The last wild polio case on the African continent was in August 2014.

“We are closer than ever to achieving a polio-free world,” said Michael K. McGovern, chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee. “To ensure that no child ever again suffers the devastating effects of this disease, we must all ensure that the necessary funds and political will are firmly in place in 2016.”

Today, just two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan – are reporting a single strain of the wild virus.

$1.5 billion urgently needed to sustain progress in eradicating polio

To sustain this progress, and protect all children from the disease, experts say $1.5 billion is urgently needed. Without full funding and political commitment, the disease could return to previously polio-free countries, putting children everywhere at risk.

Rotary’s funds will support efforts to keep 5 countries in Africa polio-free: Nigeria ($5,5), Cameroon ($1.6 million), Chad ($2 million); Ethiopia ($4.1 million), and Somalia ($1,8 million). Additional funds will be support eradication efforts in endemic and at-risk countries: Pakistan ($11.4 million), Afghanistan ($6 million), Iraq ($1,6 million) and India ($600 000). Finally, $350 000 in funds will be dedicated to polio research.

Rotary launched its polio immunisation programme PolioPlus in 1985, and in 1988 became a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Since the initiative launched, the incidence of the disease has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases a year to 70 confirmed to date in 2015.

Rotary has contributed more than $1.5 billion and countless volunteer hours to fight polio. Through 2018, every dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication will be matched two-to-one by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation up to $35 million a year. 

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