Rotary International has announced grants totaling $35 million in support of global efforts to eradicate polio.
Announced following reports of three new cases of wild poliovirus in Nigeria, the first reports of wild poliovirus in that country in two years, the grants include $8.15 million to fund the Global Polio Eradication Initiative's efforts in Nigeria and other Lake Chad basin countries, including Chad, northern Cameroon, southern Niger, and the Central African Republic. Other grants will support programs in Afghanistan ($5.55 million), Pakistan ($12.36 million), India ($875,000), Somalia ($1.77 million), South Sudan ($2.04 million), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo ($2 million). In addition, a $2.25 million grant will support key World Health Organization staff engaged in eradication efforts.
While significant strides have been made against polio, with just twenty-six cases reported worldwide in 2016, the virus remains a threat in hard-to-reach and underserved areas as well as in conflict zones. The latest grants announced by Rotary International bring the organization's total support for polio eradication in 2016 to $105 million. 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.
"While we are disappointed with the recent news coming out of Nigeria, this situation underscores the extreme importance of widespread immunization campaigns and strong disease surveillance in all countries of the world until polio is fully eradicated," said Michael K. McGovern, chair of Rotary's International PolioPlus Committee. "This funding will help ensure that Rotary and our GPEI partners are doing all that we can to redouble our efforts and protect the progress in polio-free parts of the world, as well as stop transmission in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and now Nigeria."