Rotary International has announced grants totaling $50 million in support of global efforts to eradicate polio.
The grants will fund surveillance, technical assistance, and operational support for immunization activities expected to reach up to 38.4 million children. The commitment follows an announcement by the organization that wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) has been eradicated globally — only the third human disease-causing pathogen in history to be eradicated — leaving just one strain of wild polio that continues to affect children. In August, Nigeria, one of three countries where polio had remained endemic, reached the three-year mark without a reported case of wild poliovirus.
The grants include $10.3 million to build stockpiles of the monovalent oral poliovirus type 2 (mOPV2) vaccine, $6.3 million in support of the African Regional Surveillance network, and varying amounts for eradication efforts in Cameroon ($4.1 million), Chad ($3.3 million), the Democratic Republic of the Congo ($3.4 million), Niger ($8.2 million), Nigeria ($491,153), Somalia ($4.6 million), Afghanistan ($4.6 million), and Pakistan ($4.8 million); wild poliovirus cases are still being reported in the latter two countries. To address remaining challenges to global eradication — including weak public health systems and the difficulty of reaching children in regions where insecurity and conflict are endemic — the Global Polio Eradication Initiative will host a pledging event in November.
Rotary has committed to raising $50 million annually to accomplish its goal of eradications — funds that will be matched on a two-to-one basis by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
"The eradication of wild poliovirus type 3 and Nigeria's good news demonstrate tremendous progress, but there is still much work to be done as we address the increase in cases in Pakistan and Afghanistan," said Michael K. McGovern, chair of Rotary's International PolioPlus Committee. "In the face of challenges, reaching these historic benchmarks shows us that polio eradication is possible, and it's important that we harness this momentum to secure the funding and political support needed to end polio for good."