Rotary International has announced grants totaling nearly $36 million in support of efforts to eliminate polio in Africa and Asia.
The grants will fund polio immunization and eradication efforts carried out by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a public-private partnership spearheaded by the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, and Rotary International that aims to eliminate the viral disease by 2018. Grants include $6.8 million for immunization efforts in Afghanistan, $7.7 million for such efforts in Nigeria, and $926,000 for efforts in Pakistan — the three countries where the virus remains endemic.
In addition, UNICEF will use a grant of more than $2.7 million to bolster vaccination activities in the Horn of Africa region as part of an ongoing response to a 2013 outbreak there of a strain that is endemic to Nigeria. Other countries receiving funds include Burkina Faso ($2.1 million), Cameroon ($3.4 million), the Democratic Republic of Congo ($3.9 million), Niger ($2.3 million), Somalia ($1.3 million), South Sudan ($2.6 million), and Sudan ($1.2 million).
"Now it is of critical importance to get as many children as possible immunized through routine immunization, especially in areas within the Horn of Africa that are not doing so well in that regard," said Joel Lehmann, a Rotary member from Nairobi, Kenya. "As Rotary, we want to find effective ways to eradicate polio worldwide and at the same time to improve child health in general.”