Rotary committed an additional $35 million in grants to support the global effort to end polio – donating a total of US$70 million in 2016 alone.
Dubai, UAE, October 3, 2016: The announcement comes on the heels of significant strides made against the paralyzing disease, leaving just two polio-endemic countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan. If current progress continues, 2016 may mark the last case of wild poliovirus. 'While we are experiencing unprecedented success against polio, it is imperative to maintain high immunity and quality surveillance in all countries of the world until polio is fully eradicated,' said Michael K. McGovern, chair of Rotary's International PolioPlus Committee. 'We must protect the progress in polio-free parts of the world, as well as stopping transmission in Pakistan and Afghanistan.'
To sustain this progress, and protect all children from polio, experts say US$1.5 billion is urgently needed. Without full funding and political commitment, this paralyzing disease could return to previously polio-free countries, putting children everywhere at risk. Rotary has contributed more than $1.5 billion and countless volunteer hours to fight polio, with Rotary Club Jumeirah donating significant amounts of money to the effort. In addition to contributing funds, Rotary members have also traveled at their own expense to immunize children against polio in India. Through 2018, every dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication will be matched two-to-one by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation up to US$35 million a year. 'It's amazing what we can accomplish when hearts and minds work together. See how leaders from countries, cultures, and occupations around the world are taking action — to enhance health, empower youth, promote peace, and improve their community. Today we are closer than ever to eradicating polio,” says Dr. Ram Buxani, President of Rotary Club Jumeirah. 'However, until we eliminate polio from its final reservoirs, children everywhere are at risk from this disease. Rotary Club of Jumeirah - along with our partners - will work hard to ensure that the world's most vulnerable children are kept safe from polio. Our work as Rotarians aims at affecting local communities on a global scale to create lasting change. This is in line with our 2016 annual theme: Collectively we serve,” added Dubai based entrepreneur and business leader Dr. Ram Buxani.
Rotary launched its polio immunization program PolioPlus in 1985 and in 1988 became a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and was later joined by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since the initiative launched, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases a year to 16 confirmed to date in 2016.