Rotary Clubs worldwide meet US$200 million fundraising challenge & Rotary celebrates India’s first polio-free year

I have written many times about the wonderful work Rotary is doing to eradicate polio worldwide.  Recently we have reached some wonderful milestones in this effort, and I would like to share them with you.

Rotary International world-wide has succeeded in matching the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s challenge to raise US$200 million funding for polio eradication, raising more than $202.6 million as of 17th January.

“We will celebrate this milestone, but it does not mean that we will stop raising money or spreading the word about polio eradication,” Rotary Foundation Trustee John F. Germ said.  “We can’t stop until our entire world is certified as polio-free.”

The fundraising milestone was reached in response to $355 million in challenge grants awarded to The Rotary Foundation by the Gates Foundation.  All funds have been earmarked to support polio immunization activities in affected countries where the vaccine-preventable disease continues to paralyse children.

In recognition of Rotary’s great work and to inspire Rotarians in the future, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is committing an additional $50 million to extend our partnership.  Rotary started the global fight against polio, and continues to set the tone for private fundraising, grassroots engagement, and maintaining polio at the top of the agenda with key policymakers.

Since 1988, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99 percent, from about 350,000 cases annually to fewer than 650 cases reported in 2011.

To date, Rotarians worldwide have contributed more than $1 billion towards the eradication of polio, a cause Rotary took on in 1985.  In 1988 UNICEF and the U.S Centre for Disease Control & Prevention joined Rotary as spearheading partners of the Global Polio Eradication initiative.  In 2007 the Gates Foundation gave Rotary a $100 million challenge grant for eradication, increasing it to $355 million in 2009.  Rotary agreed to raise $200 million in matching funds by 30th June 2012.

Rotary Club members worldwide are cautiously celebrating a major milestone in the global effort to eradicate polio.  India until recently an epicentre of the wild poliovirus has gone one year without recording a new case of the crippling, sometimes fatal, disease.

If you would like to be part of this amazing organisation or would like to find out how you could join the Rotary Club of Bowral-Mittagong, please visit our website, or contact our Secretary on 02 4861 6917