THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Rotary donates $44.7 million toward global effort to end polio

Rotary has donated $44.7 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which aims to wipe polio off the map by 2018.

The funds will aid vaccination efforts and research. 

When the global polio eradication initiative began in 1988, there were 350,000 polio cases each year. In 2013, doctors confirmed only 416 polio cases worldwide.

"It is fitting that this round of Rotary grants coincides with World Polio Day, which we use to raise awareness of -- and support for – the global campaign to end this terrible disease once and for all," Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko said.

Rotary has donated to other health initiatives fighting polio, such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization. To date, Rotary’s donations to polio research add up to a total of more than $1.3 billion.

Scientists have eliminated 99 percent of polio. Using mass inoculation, scientists plan to erase the remaining one percent by 2018. The majority of remaining polio cases occur in children living in at-risk countries.

Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, all countries where polio remains active, will receive more than half of the donation. The rest of the funds will go toward polio research and polio-free countries with recently imported polio cases or those deemed at-risk for new cases, including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Somalia, Niger, India, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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