Rotary International Awards $44.7 Million to Eradicate Polio

Rotary International has announced grants totaling $44.7 million in support of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which aims to eradicate the disabling viral disease by 2018.

Announced in advance of World Polio Day (October 24), the grants will support immunization, monitoring, and research efforts, with the aim of eliminating the disease in polio-endemic and at-risk countries in Asia and Africa. To that end, a total of $18.5 million will fund efforts to eliminate the wild poliovirus in the three countries where it remains endemic — Afghanistan ($7.4 million), Nigeria ($8.4 million), and Pakistan ($2.7 million); $9.5 million will support work in previously polio-free countries that are now reporting cases "imported" from countries where the virus is endemic — Cameroon ($3.5 million), Ethiopia ($2 million), and Somalia ($4 million); and $10.4 million will be earmarked for activities in polio-free countries that remain at risk of reinfection — the Democratic Republic of Congo ($1.5 million), India ($4.9 million), Niger ($1 million), South Sudan ($2 million), and Sudan ($1 million). The remaining $6.3 million will be used to support polio eradication research.

The initiative — a public-private partnership among donor governments and the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF — aims to eradicate polio through the routine immunization of children, supplementary immunization, and targeted door-to-door immunization campaigns in areas where the virus is known or suspected to be circulating. To date, Rotary International has contributed more than $1.3 billion to the fight against polio, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match every dollar the organization commits to polio eradication on a two-to-one basis, up to $35 million a year, through 2018.

"As more than a hundred and twenty countries in the world are introducing the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), we are beginning the last chapter on polio eradication," said Olivier Charmeil, CEO of Sanofi Pasteur, the largest manufacturer of polio vaccine. "At Sanofi Pasteur, we have had a long-term vision of IPV as the ultimate public health tool able to finish the job started with oral polio vaccine. Today we are honored to stand alongside Rotary, the historical partner in the battle against polio."