WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Rotary provides $35.9 million to fight against polio

Rotary, an organization dedicated to fighting polio, announced on Wednesday that it would contribute $35.9 million to support activities and research by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

The grants from Rotary include $7.7 million for Nigeria, $6.8 million for Afghanistan and $926,000 for Pakistan. Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan are the three countries in which the polio virus remains endemic.

The grant amounts were based on requests from eradication initiative partners UNICEF and the World Health Organization, which work with polio-affected countries to plan and carry out immunization activities.

UNICEF will use a $2.73 million grant to increase vaccination activities throughout the Horn of Africa to respond to an outbreak that started in 2013 and infected more than 200 children.

"Now it is of critical importance to get as many children as possible immunized through routine immunization, especially in areas within the Horn of Africa that are not doing so well in that regard," Joel Lehmann, a Rotary member from Nairobi, Kenya, said. "As Rotary, we want to find effective ways to eradicate polio worldwide and at the same time, to improve child health in general."

Rotary funds will also be used to fight polio in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Burkina Faso.

Since Rotary launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, the incidence of polio has dropped by more than 99 percent from approximately 350,000 worldwide cases annually to 369 confirmed cases in 2013.