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Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have renewed their longstanding partnership towards polio eradication.
To this end, Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced a joint commitment of up to $450 million to support the global polio eradication effort.
Rotary is committed to raising $50 million per year over the next three years, with every dollar to be matched with two additional dollars from the Bill & Melind Gates Foundation. This expanded agreement would translate into up to $450 million for polio eradication activities.
“Because of the efforts of Rotary and its partners, almost 19 million people are walking today who would have otherwise been paralysed.
“By partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we’re ensuring that children in polio-affected countries get the lifesaving vaccines they need to be protected from polio for life.
“As the first organisation to envision a polio-free world, Rotary is more committed than ever to delivering on our promise that one day, no child will ever again be paralysed by polio,” said past President of Rotary International, John Germ, who led Rotary’s polio fundraising efforts.
To an audience of Rotary volunteer leaders from around the world, the Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, delivered a video message announcing the extension of a funding partnership forged more than a decade ago.
“The Gates Foundation’s longstanding partnership with Rotary has been vital to fighting polio.
“That’s why we’re extending our funding match, so every dollar that Rotary raises is met with two more. I believe that together, we can make eradication a reality,” Gates said in his message to Rotary volunteers.
In addition to the extended funding partnership with the Gates Foundation, Rotary is also announcing $45 million in funding for polio eradication efforts in African countries, including Angola, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan, and Asian countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan and the Philippines.
The funding would help support crucial polio eradication activities such as immunisation and disease detection, research, and community mobilisation.
Polio – a paralysing and sometimes deadly disease – is on the verge of becoming the second human disease in history to be eradicated. This critical funding would help ensure that children in at-risk countries are protected from polio, and that the wild poliovirus would be eliminated in the last two countries that continue to report cases.
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 programme efforts, funding and support from donors and world governments has become imperative.
Rotary has contributed more than $2 billion to fight polio, including matching funds from the Gates Foundation, and countless volunteer hours since launching its polio eradication programme, PolioPlus, in 1985.
In 1988, Rotary formed the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance later joined.
When the initiative was launched, there were 350,000 cases of polio every year. Today the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 per cent.
Anyone could be a part of the fight to end polio and have their donation to Rotary matched 2-to-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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