Rotary commits $75 million to worldwide polio eradication

Rotary International, a global humanitarian organization, plans to commit $75 million over the course of three years to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Rotary's contribution is part of the attempt to close a $945 million funding gap that could derail the global health effort that has new polio cases at an all-time low. The organization has already contributed more than $1.2 billion to stop the disease.

"It is imperative that governments step up and honor their commitments to polio eradication if we are to achieve our goal of a polio-free world," Wilf Wilkinson, the chair of the Rotary Foundation, said. "We are at a true tipping point, with success never closer than it is right now. We must seize the advantage by acting immediately, or risk breaking our pledge to the world's children."

Polio cases have dropped by more than 99 percent since 1988. That year, there were approximately 350,000 children infected. In 2011, fewer than 700 new cases were reported. Rotary and its partners, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the World Health Organization, have given more than 2.5 billion children the oral polio vaccine.

Earlier this year, Rotary raised $228 million in new money for the cause in response to a $355 million grant challenge from the Gates Foundation.