Rotary International has announced grants totaling $100 million in support of global efforts to address the final and most urgent challenges in eradicating polio.
While only thirty-three cases of wild poliovirus were reported worldwide in 2018, the so-called last mile of eradication has proven to be the most difficult — due to factors such as weak national health systems, political instability, and populations on the move. To support eradication efforts in countries where polio remains endemic, Rotary allocated half the total in this funding round to Afghanistan ($16.3 million), Nigeria ($10.2 million), and Pakistan ($25.2 million).
The organization also awarded a number of grants in support of efforts to keep ten other countries on the front lines of the eradication effort polio-free, including Chad ($102,395), the Democratic Republic of the Congo ($9.5 million), Ethiopia ($2.6 million), Iraq ($6 million), Kenya ($6.3 million), Mali ($1.2 million), Somalia ($1.4 million), South Sudan ($1.2 million), Syria ($1.7 million), and Yemen ($2.1 million). In addition, the World Health Organization received grants for research ($1.3 million ) as well as surveillance activities in Africa ($10.9 million) and the Eastern Mediterranean ($4 million).
"We have the wild poliovirus cornered in the smallest geographic area in history, and now there are just two countries that continue to report cases of the wild virus," said Michael K. McGovern, chair of Rotary's International PolioPlus Committee. "As we work with our partners to apply innovative new strategies to reach more children, and embrace lessons learned thus far, Rotary is doubling down on our commitment to end polio for good. I'm optimistic that the end of polio is within our grasp, but we must remain vigilant in rallying global political and financial support as we push towards a polio-free world."