Polio eradication has been one of Rotary International’s global health goals for years. The organization has even given itself a deadline year of 2018. Last year, Rotary made a huge donation of $75 million toward eradication efforts, focusing its polio fight in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
Rotary International’s more recent grants, of $44.7 million, may seem to signal that it is scaling back its polio campaign, but that is not the case. The organization secured a deal with the deep-pocketed Gates Foundation, which will match every dollar Rotary commits to reaching its polio eradication efforts by 2018.
Gates’ match ratio is 2:1, and up to $35 million annually. Those are some pretty big numbers. If Rotary keeps on track with its polio funding over the next few years—which, if history serves, it will—the Gates match could reach $105 million.
As with the $75 million gift last year, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan remain heavy focus areas for Rotary's polio eradication work. In those three countries specifically, nearly one half, or around $18.5 million, of Rotary’s grant money is allocated for the eradication of the wild poliovirus. Toward those ends, $7.4 million was committed to wild poliovirus work in Afghanistan, $8.4 million to Nigeria, and $2.7 million to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, $9.5 million in grant money was committed to fight cases of so-called "imported" polio. Polio is considered imported when countries that were once polio-free report increased cases of the virus. Rotary’s grant money toward imported polio was awarded to organizations working in Cameroon ($3.5 million), Ethiopia ($2 million), and Somalia ($4 million).
And $10.4 million in grants will focus on helping countries that are currently polio free to remain that way. Rotary's efforts in this area are focused on the Democratic Republic of Congo ($1.5 million), India ($4.9 million), Niger ($1 million), South Sudan ($2 million), and Sudan ($1 million).
The remaining grant money is earmarked for polio eradication research.
Rotary International has been marching toward polio eradication since the late 1980s. Since then, it has committed over $1 billion toward the fight and picked up some pretty heavy-hitting partners along the way including Gates, UNICEF, and the WHO.
As of 2013, there were just over 400 confirmed polio cases worldwide. When you compare that to the estimated 350,000 cases when Rotary began its death to polio campaign a few decades ago, it’s clear that Rotary International and like-minded organizations are winning this particular fight.