$200 US million dollar fundraising reached!

Rotary Foundation Trustee John F. Germ giving polio drops in India

Rotary club worldwide meet US$200 million fundraising challenge

Rotary International has succeeded in meeting the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's US$200 million match in funding for polio eradication, raising more than $202.6 million as of 17 January.

"We'll celebrate this milestone, but it doesn't mean that we'll stop raising money or spreading the word about polio eradication," Rotary Foundation Trustee John F. Germ told Rotary leaders at the International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA. "We can't stop until our entire world is certified as polio-free."

The fundraising milestone was reached in response to $355 million in challenge grants awarded to The Rotary Foundation by the Gates Foundation. All funds have been earmarked to support polio immunization activities in affected countries where the vaccine-preventable disease continues to paralyze children.

"In recognition of Rotary's great work, and to inspire Rotarians in the future, the [Gates] foundation is committing an additional $50 million to extend our partnership," said Jeff Raikes, chief executive officer of the Gates Foundation. "Rotary started the global fight against polio, and continues to set the tone for private fundraising, grassroots engagement, and maintaining polio at the top of the agenda with key policymakers." Raikes also addressed Rotary leaders at the International Assembly.

Bill Gates & John Hewko

The new $50 million grant from the Gates Foundation is not a challenge grant.

Since 1988, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99 percent, from about 350,000 cases annually to fewer than 650 cases reported so far for 2011. The wild poliovirus is now endemic in only four countries: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. However, India on 13 January marked a full calendar year without a case, paving the way for its removal from the endemic list.

But other countries also remain at risk for polio cases imported from the endemic countries. In Africa in 2011, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had significant outbreaks. Also in 2011, a small cluster of polio cases in China, which had been polio-free for a decade, was traced to Pakistan.

Rotary club members not only reached into their own pockets to support the Gates challenge, but also engaged their communities in a variety of creative fundraising projects, such as a fashion show in California that raised $52,000, benefit film screenings in New Zealand and Australia that netted $54,000, and a pledge-supported hike through Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, that brought in $38,000. Many events were planned around 24 October, widely observed as World Polio Day.

To date, Rotarians worldwide have contributed more than $1 billion toward the eradication of polio, a cause Rotary took on in 1985. In 1988, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention joined Rotary as spearheading partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. More recently, the Gates Foundation has become a major supporter. In 2007, the Gates Foundation gave Rotary a $100 million challenge grant for polio eradication, increasing it to $355 million in 2009. Rotary agreed to raise $200 million in matching funds by 30 June 2012.

Reaching children with the oral polio vaccine in the disease's remaining strongholds is labor- and resource-intensive due to a host of challenges, including poor infrastructure, geographical isolation, armed conflict, and cultural misunderstanding about the eradication campaign.

Challendges to Eradicate Polio
Health experts agree that these primary challenges must be overcome in order to reach the goal of polio eradication:

•Halting the spread of the poliovirus in the four remaining endemic countries (Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan), which continue to export it to polio-free areas

•Curbing the intense spread of the poliovirus in northern Nigeria and Pakistan

•Rapidly stopping polio outbreaks in previously polio-free countries

•Addressing low routine-immunization rates and surveillance gaps in polio-free areas

•Maintaining funding and political commitment to implement the eradication strategies
Four key strategies for stopping poliovirus transmission
1. Routine immunization
High infant-immunization coverage with four doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) in the first year of life is critical. Routine immunization is essential because it's the primary way that polio-free countries protect their children from the threat of imported polio. Read more about the bivalent oral polio vaccine.

2. National Immunization Days
For decades, Rotary’s PolioPlus program has been one of the driving forces during National Immunization Days, or NIDs. Rotarians are involved in myriad ways before, during, and after an NID, by providing funds for millions of drops of vaccine, promoting upcoming campaigns in the community, distributing vaccine to local health centers, serving as monitors, working with local officials to reach every child, and participating in surveillance efforts.

3. Surveillance
Rotarians play an important role in working with health workers, pediatricians, and others to find, report, and investigate cases of acute flaccid paralysis in timely manner (ideally within 48 hours of onset). PolioPlus sometimes helps fund containers that preserve the integrity of stool samples during transport to laboratories. The program has also played a leading role in providing equipment for the global poliovirus laboratory.

4. Targeted mop-up campaigns
Rotary’s support of mop-up campaigns is similar to NID volunteering, but on a smaller, often "house-to-house," scale.


Did you know that more than 10 million children will be paralyzed in the next 40 years if the world fails to eradicate polio? Embark on a virtual tour of “Whatever Happened to Polio?” an exhibit of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History that chronicles the history of the disease and efforts to eradicate it. The exhibit is now on permanent display at the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation.

On Sunday morning, February 15, 1987, workers at Mabalacat hospital began assembling the drug packets that would go with each of the eighteen teams to thirty immunization sites. Each team consisted of one Rotarian, several midwives, student nurses, & barangay health workers. Each team leader had been briefed in advance, received maps directing him to his barrio and had visited the site to insure all was ready. Now, nearly twenty years later, the world has only a few places in which the dreaded disease of polio still exists.


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