Rotary International has received a US$3.5 million challenge grant from the Google Foundation to eradicate polio worldwide.
Rotary International has received a US$3.5 million challenge grant from the Google Foundation, a nonprofit managed by, in support of Rotary's top goal to eradicate polio worldwide. Rotary will raise funds to match the Google Foundation grant dollar-for-dollar over one year.

The grant and matching funds will directly support polio immunization activities carried out by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a partnership spearheaded by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Following the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's $100 million grant to Rotary in November, represents another response to the call for support by Rotary and its partners to finish polio," says Dr. Robert S. Scott, trustee chair of The Rotary Foundation. "Both challenge grants reflect strong confidence in Rotary's leadership role in working relentlessly to help achieve this vital public health goal for the world's children."

Eradicating polio has been Rotary's number-one priority since 1985. To date, Rotary has helped immunize nearly two billion children and contributed $650 million to the GPEI, a figure that will rise to more than $850 million by the time the world is certified polio-free.

Globally, the number of polio cases has fallen from 350,000 annually in the mid-1980s to approximately 2,000 cases in 2006. The GPEI has succeeded in slashing the number of cases by 99 percent and decreased the number of polio-endemic countries from 125 to just 4: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

"This grant comes at a crucial time for the initiative, as more funds are needed to reach children in the most challenging regions of the world," says RI President Wilfrid J. Wilkinson. "We have the technical tools to beat polio, and we're almost there. All we need is for the rest of the world to follow the Google Foundation's lead in supporting the effort to eradicate this vaccine-preventable disease once and for all."

By Dan Nixon
Rotary International News - 14 February 2008