Rotary International has announced grants totaling $35 million for global efforts to eradicate polio.
The grants include $16.15 million in support of emergency response campaigns aimed at stopping an outbreak of the disease in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin, which includes Chad, northern Cameroon, southern Niger, and the Central African Republic. In addition, four cases of polio were detected in 2016 in Nigeria, which had been polio-free since July 2014. Other grants will support polio eradication efforts in Afghanistan ($7.15 million), Pakistan ($4.2 million), Somalia ($4.64 million), and South Sudan ($2.19 million), while a final grant of $666,845 will underwrite technical assistance efforts by UNICEF's West and Central Africa Regional Office.
Although significant progress has been made in eradicating the disease, with only thirty-five cases reported in 2016, polio remains a threat in conflict zones and hard-to-reach and underserved areas. According to Rotary, an additional $1.5 billion is needed to fund ongoing eradication efforts if the gains are to be sustained. With the latest grants, the organization has contributed a total of $140 million since January 2016 toward polio eradication initiatives.