RI and Gates Foundation commit US$200 million for intensified push to finish polio

Released on: November 29, 2007, 5:13 am

Press Release Author: Wayne Hearn & Dan Nixon / Rotary International News

Industry: Non Profit

Press Release Summary: R otary International has announced a partnership with the
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will inject a much needed US$200 million into
the global effort to eradicate polio. The Rotary Foundation received a $100 million
Gates Foundation challenge grant, which Rotary will raise funds to match, dollar for
dollar, over three years.

Press Release Body: Rotary International announced a partnership with the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation on 26 November that will inject a much needed US$200
million into the global effort to eradicate polio.

The Rotary Foundation received a $100 million Gates Foundation challenge grant,
which Rotary will raise funds to match, dollar for dollar, over three years.

Rotary will spend the initial $100 million within one year in direct support of
immunization activities carried out by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative,
spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and UNICEF.

\"The extraordinary dedication of Rotary members has played a critical role in
bringing polio to the brink of eradication,\" says Bill Gates, cochair of the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation. \"Eradicating polio will be one of the most significant
public health accomplishments in history, and we are committed to helping reach that
goal.\"

The polio eradication grant is one of the largest challenge grants ever given by the
Gates Foundation and the largest grant received by Rotary in its 102-year history.
Since 1985, Rotary has made polio eradication its top priority and has contributed
$633 million to the effort.

\"Rotarians worldwide have worked very hard over the years to reach this point, and
it is rewarding to see our approach validated in such a significant way by the Bill
& Melinda Gates Foundation,\" says Dr. Robert Scott, chair of The Rotary Foundation
Trustees. \"We hope that this shared commitment of Rotary and the Gates Foundation
will challenge other donors, including foundations, governments, and nongovernmental
organizations, to step up and make sure we have the resources needed to rid the
world of polio once and for all.\"

\"This partnership is a historic milestone - and timely opportunity - for Rotary
through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to help eradicate a disease that
once devastated a thousand lives a day,\" says RI President Wilfrid Wilkinson. \"I
know that we as Rotarians will accept the challenge and do our part to finish the
job.\"

The Gates Foundation grant comes at a critical juncture for the initiative, which
urgently needs an infusion of funds to reach the eradication goal. Although the
initiative has slashed the number of polio cases by 99 percent over the past two
decades, the wild poliovirus still persists in four countries: Afghanistan, India,
Nigeria, and Pakistan. Polio cases represented by that final 1 percent are the most
costly to prevent, due to geographical isolation, poor public infrastructure, armed
conflict, cultural barriers, and other factors.

\"This investment is precisely the catalyst we need as we intensify the push to
finish polio,\" says Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO\'s director-general. \"We have the
technical tools to do it, and we can achieve a polio-free world if the rest of our
financial partners step up to meet the challenge.\"

Most of the initial $100 million will be spent in support of mass immunization
campaigns in polio-affected countries, poliovirus surveillance activities, and
community education and outreach. The grant will also support an expanded research
agenda on ways to expedite interruption of the transmission of the wild poliovirus.
Rotary will distribute the funds through grants to WHO and UNICEF.

\"The funds made possible through the Gates Foundation grant will help the Global
Polio Eradication Initiative scale up its efforts to provide oral polio vaccine to
children in those isolated locations where it\'s most needed,\" says Ann Veneman,
executive director of UNICEF. \"This important contribution will improve the capacity
to protect vulnerable children from this debilitating disease.\"

CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding says the collaboration between Rotary and the
Gates Foundation underscores the importance of private-sector involvement in major
public health efforts. \"As a government agency, we think it\'s wonderful that our
private-sector colleagues have taken a leadership role in something as important as
polio eradication. Their participation is absolutely critical.\"



Web Site:
http://www.rotary.org/en/MediaAndNews/News/Pages/071120_news_gannounce.aspx

Contact Details: RI World Headquarters
Rotary International
One Rotary Center
1560 Sherman Ave.
Evanston, IL 60201, USA

Phone: 847-866-3000
Fax: 847-328-8554 or 847-328-8281
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