Gates Foundation and Rotary extend fundraising agreement to conquer polio

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary International announced an extension on Tuesday of an existing fundraising partnership that could result in $525 million in new money for the eradication of polio.

The organizations announced the new agreement before an audience of more than 20,000 Rotary members during the humanitarian group's annual convention in Lisbon, Portugal. The Gates Foundation will match two dollars for each one new dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication up to $35 million annually through 2018.

"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," Jeff Raikes, the CEO of the Gates Foundation, said. "We will combine the strength of Rotary's network with our resources and together with the other partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative we will not only end a disease, we will change the face of public health forever."

The funds will be part of a six-year plan to eradicate wild poliovirus and vaccine-derived virus. The plan was announced in April during the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi.

"We're at a critical point in the fight to end polio," John Germ, the leader of Rotary's fundraising efforts for polio eradication, said. "We must capitalize on this progress to finish the job. We have a robust plan, the tools to reach each child, and with funding in place, we can win against this devastating disease. Rotary and its partners remain committed to a polio-free world."

The Gates Foundation and Rotary started their polio eradication partnership in 2007 when the Gates Foundation provided Rotary with a $100 million challenge grant for polio eradication.

To date, Rotary clubs around the world contributed $1.2 billion to the effort of polio eradication.