Push on to Eradicate Polio
The push is on to eradicate polio. It is spearheaded by Rotary International, the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF.
In a big push of support, during an event hosted today by Rotary International in San Diego, California, philanthropist Bill Gates Jr. announced that his foundation has decided to increase its challenge grant by $255 million – for a total of $355 million.
By accepting the increase, Rotary will need to raise an additional $100 million in matching funds by 30 June 2012. They have already committed more than $60 million towards the first 100 million Gates Foundation challenge grant awarded in November 2007.
All of the resulting $555 million will be spent in support of immunization activities carried out by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in polio-affected countries.
Also, announced today, the United Kingdom's Department for International Development and the German government pledged funds to the global initiative. The United Kingdom pledged £100 million (US$150 million). The German government pledged additional €100 million (US$130 million). These contributions are separate and will not count toward Rotary's match of the Gates Foundation challenge grant.
The infusion of funds is crucial as the world pushes to finally be rid of polio, a crippling, sometimes fatal disease that poses the highest risk to children. The initiative has reduced the number of polio cases by 99 percent over the past two decades, but wild poliovirus still persists in four countries -- Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Cases imported from these endemic countries threaten other developing nations.
For more information on the global eradication initiative
Global Polio Eradication Initiative