Gates Foundation joins with Rotary to boost polio endgame support

 

By Dan Nixon and Arnold R. Grahl  
Rotary News -- 25 June 2013  

An announcement at the Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal, set the stage for a bold new chapter in the partnership between Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the campaign for polio eradication.  

“Going forward, the Gates Foundation will match two-to-one, up to US$35 million per year, every dollar Rotary commits to reduce the funding shortfall for polio eradication through 2018,” said Jeff Raikes, the foundation’s chief executive officer, in a prerecorded video address shown during the convention’s plenary session on 25 June. “If fully realized, the value of this new partnership with Rotary is more than $500 million. In this way, your contributions to polio will work twice as hard.”  

The joint effort, called End Polio Now – Make History Today, comes during a critical phase for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative . The estimated cost of the initiative’s 2013-18 Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan is $5.5 billion.Funding commitments , announced at the Global Vaccine Summit in April, total $4 billion. Unless the $1.5 billion funding gap is met, immunization levels in polio-affected countries will decrease. And if polio is allowed to rebound, within a decade, more than 200,000 children worldwide could be paralyzed every year. 

Rotary and the Gates Foundation are determined not to let polio make a comeback.

“We will combine the strength of Rotary’s network with our resources, and together with the other partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), we will not just end a disease but change the face of public health forever,” said Raikes. 

In 2007, the Gates Foundation gave The Rotary Foundation a $100 million challenge grant for polio eradication, and in 2009, increased it to $355 million. Rotary agreed to raise $200 million in matching funds by 30 June 2012, but Rotarians in fact raised $228.7 million toward the challenge.

“Now is the time for us all to take action: Talk to your government leaders, share your polio story with your social networks, and encourage others to join you in supporting this historic effort,” Raikes added. “When Rotarians combine the passion for service along with the power of a global network, you are unstoppable, and the Gates Foundation is proud to partner with you. Let’s make history and End Polio Now.”

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