Rotary International is giving $50 million in grants to support the global effort to end polio around the world, especially in Africa.
The funding will provide surveillance, technical assistance, and operational support for immunization activities, and will reach up to 38.4 million children with polio immunizations.
The funding comes on the heels of the announcement that wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) has been eradicated globally.
WPV3 is just the third human disease-causing pathogen to be eradicated in history, and the announcement means that there is just one remaining strain of wild polio left that continues to affect children. Rotary and its Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners reached another major milestone in August, when Nigeria reached three years without a case of wild poliovirus, thus opening the door for the entire African region to be certified wild polio-free sometime in 2o20.
“The eradication of wild poliovirus type 3 and Nigeria passing three years without a case of wild poliovirus are important benchmarks on the road to total eradication of polio,” said Dr. Tunji Funsho, Rotary’s Nigeria National PolioPlus Chair. “I want to share my gratitude with the health workers who work relentlessly to ensure that children are vaccinated. We’ve made great progress against the disease, but as long as polio exists in any part of the world, all children remain at risk, and the wild poliovirus continues to paralyze children in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We must redouble our efforts and leverage this progress to make sure every last child is protected from polio.”
Grants announced today will support ongoing eradication efforts in Nigeria as well as other African countries. Grants will also be directed to efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Funding will be distributed as follows:
|African Regional Surveillance||$6.3 million|
|DR Congo||$3.4 million|
|mOPV2 Stockpile||$10.3 million|
Rotary has committed to raising $50 million a year to be matched 2-to-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, amounting to $150 million for polio eradication annually.
While only Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to report cases of wild poliovirus, the remaining challenges to global eradication—like difficulty reaching children amid insecurity and conflict and weak health systems—have proven to be the most difficult. In order to meet these roadblocks head on and ensure the continuation of program efforts, the GPEI is hosting a pledging event at the Reaching the Last Mile Forum in Abu Dhabi, at which world leaders will gather and announce their commitment to ending polio for good.
Rotary has contributed more than $2 billion to fight polio, and countless volunteer hours since launching its polio eradication program, PolioPlus, in 1985. In 1988, Rotary formed the GPEI with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Gates Foundation later joined. Since the initiative launched, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases in 1988 to fewer than 100 cases this year