Rotary clubs in Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI), and the rest of the world, have succeeded in raising USD$218 million in new funding for polio eradication over the last 3 years.
The fundraising milestone was reached in response to a USD$355 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, set in 2007, which would be given if Rotary had raised USD$200m over the 3 years ending June this year. All funds have been earmarked to support polio immunisation activities in affected countries where this vaccine-preventable disease continues to paralyse children.
The Rotary Club of Douglas rose to the challenge and can announce that it has achieved the milestone of raising £17,000 over the last 3 years through its works within the local community and schools in raising awareness of this terrible disease. This sum is equivalent to providing vaccinations for every man, woman and child on the Isle of Man, and will be used to vaccinate 85,000 children most at risk of contracting polio across the world.
In addition the Rotary Club of Douglas applied for a matching donation from the Isle of Man Government Overseas Aid Committee which has been supported and has additionally provided £10,500 which will vaccinate a further 52,500 children. Rotary Club of Douglas members recently met Minister Phil Gawne of the Overseas Aid Committee to pass on their thanks for the Committee’s support. Minister Gawne stated "As polio has been eradicated in the west it is easy for us to forget what a damaging condition it is. Given that the cost of vaccination is only 20 pence per dose, the money donated by the Overseas Aid Committee together with the funding raised by the Rotary Club of Douglas over the last 3 years will represent immunisation of over 137,500 children. The Committee is very pleased to support the work of the Rotary Club of Douglas and other local people in aid of such a worthwhile cause."
Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are so close to achieving a polio-free world. In February, the World Health Organization removed India from its list of polio-endemic countries. But funding remains critical until the disease is eradicated. Although India reported its last case of polio on 13 January 2011, it will not be certified polio-free until January 2014. Similarly, each of the three remaining polio-endemic countries — Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan — will have to go for three years without any cases before it can be certified as polio-free.
Meanwhile, money is needed to pay for vaccines, social mobilization, polio surveillance, technical assistance, and other costs associated with eradicating the disease from the endemic countries and preventing future outbreaks.
“Please do not stop giving because we have achieved the target of Rotary’s challenge,” urges Kevin Kneen (Rotary Club of Douglas Thanks For Life/End Polio Now Chairman). “Every pound given for the eradication of polio will be used exactly for that. IAs long as polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, children everywhere remain at risk. The stakes are that high. The fight goes on. Every penny counts.”
Photo caption - Picture shows, from L-R, Bob Dowty (President Elect of Douglas Rotary), Sam Alder (President of Douglas Rotary), Minister Phil Gawne (Overseas Aid Committee), and Kevin Kneen (Thanks For Life/End Polio Now Chairman of Douglas Rotary).