Rotary International has announced grants totaling $34.8 million in support of polio immunization and monitoring activities in ten countries, including Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan, the three countries where transmission of the virus has never been interrupted.
To be used by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, the grants include $8.1 million in support of a final push to eradicate the disease in Nigeria, where the number of polio cases dropped nearly 90 percent on a year-over basis and which has not registered a single new case in the last six months. "Nigeria has managed an incredible feat," said Tunji Funsho, Rotary's PolioPlus chair for the country. "However, now we must be more vigilant than ever, as our progress is fragile."
In addition, the organization awarded $1.1 million for polio eradication efforts in Pakistan, which recorded more than three hundred cases — nearly 90 percent of all new cases globally — in 2014; $6.7 million for efforts in Afghanistan; $7 million for Somalia; $3.3 million for the Democratic Republic of Congo; $2.8 million for Niger; $2.5 million for Chad; $1.6 million for Cameroon; $1.1 million for Ethiopia; and $250,000 for Kenya.
More than half the new cases of polio in 2013 occurred in previously polio-free countries plagued by instability and conflict. Those outbreaks appear to have been contained in 2014, however, thanks in part to special vaccination efforts in eleven countries that reached more than fifty-six million children.
"We are encouraged to see the tangible progress made against this disease in 2014," said Mike McGovern, chair of Rotary's International PolioPlus Committee. "However, until we eliminate polio from its final reservoirs, children everywhere are at risk from this disease. Rotary — along with our partners — will work hard to ensure that the world's most vulnerable children are kept safe from polio."