As Nigeria marks six months without a new case of polio, Rotary has announced $8.1 million in grants to help the country in its final push to eradicate the disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF will use the funds to support polio immunisation campaigns, research and surveillance in the country.
Nigeria is the last polio-endemic country in Africa to have reported the highest number of polio cases in the world as recently as 2012. However, the country showed remarkable progress in 2014 when it reduced its polio case count by nearly 90% over the previous year.
‘Nigeria has made incredible progress against polio this past year and I’m proud to see our country reduced cases by nearly 90% in 2014,’ said Funke Akindele, actress and Rotary polio ambassador. ‘With funds from Rotary, the continued support of Rotarians in Nigeria and around the world, I believe there will be a day when no child in Nigeria will be at risk of this disease.’
In addition to the funds provided for Nigeria, Rotary has committed $18.5 million to be divided amongst an additional seven countries in Africa. The grants include $1.6 million for Cameroon; $2.5 million for Chad; $3.3 million for the Democratic Republic of Congo; $1.1 million for Ethiopia; $250 000 for Kenya; $2.8 million for Niger; and $7 million for Somalia.
‘Nigeria has managed an incredible feat,’ said Dr. Tunji Funsho, Rotary’s National PolioPlus Chair for Nigeria. ‘Our country has gone six months without a new case of the disease. However, now we must be more vigilant than ever, as our progress is fragile.’
To date, Rotary has contributed more than $1.3 billion to fight polio. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match two-to-one every dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication (up to $35 million a year) through 2018. In 2014, there were only 350 confirmed polio cases in the world, down from about 350,000 a year when the initiative launched in 1988.