Bill Gates

Global health leaders on Monday pledged 1.2 billion dollars to reaffirm their commitment to eradicating polio and finance efforts to end the disease in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Major pledges include: 75 million dollars from Canada, 61.4 million dollars from the European Commission, 55 million dollars from Japan, and 30 million dollars from Sheikh Mohamed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

Others pledges were 30 million dollars from the Dalio Foundation, 25 million dollars from Bloomberg Philanthropies, 15 million dollars from an anonymous donor, and 13.4 million dollars from Australia.

There were also 11.2 million dollars from Germany, five million dollars from easyJet, another five million dollars from Italy and four million dollars from the Republic of Korea.

The initiative, at the Rotary Convention in Atlanta, regretted that 30 years ago polio paralyzed more than 350,000 children each year in more than 125 countries around the world.

“Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of governments, health workers, donors and the partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a public-private partnership dedicated to ending the disease.

“The highly contagious virus has now been eliminated in all but three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. There have been only five cases to date in 2017.

“However, children remain at risk everywhere until polio is completely stopped,” a UN statement said.

To end the disease for good, government representatives and partners came together to renew their commitment to supporting crucial activities such as vaccination and disease monitoring.

Chris Elias, Global Development President, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Chair of the GPEI Polio Oversight Board said the new efforts would protect more than 450 million children from polio each year.

“Thanks to the incredible efforts of Rotarians, governments, health workers, partners and donors – including those who have gathered at the Rotary Convention in Atlanta – we are closer than ever to making history.

“These new commitments will help ensure that we will finish the job,” Elias said.

“In a time of many global challenges and priorities, governments and partners have stepped forward to demonstrate their collective resolve to seeing the second human disease ever eradicated.”

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and John Germ, president of Rotary International, also announced an extension of their partnership in front of more than 20,000 Rotarians.

“Up to 150 million dollars in funds raised by Rotary members over the next three years would be matched 2:1 by the Gates Foundation, resulting in up to 450 million dollars in the next three years for the GPEI.

“The Gates Foundation pledged a total of 450 million dollars, including this matching agreement.”

John Germ, President of Rotary International, said “the global eradication of polio has been Rotary’s top priority since 1985. Rotary members have been the driving force behind the fight to end polio since its inception.

“Their continued commitment to raising funds for eradication – coupled with today’s match by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – makes that impact even greater.

“Today’s funding helps address a 1.5 billion-dollar funding need that will help ensure that the virus is eliminated from these remaining countries and prevented from regaining a foothold anywhere else in the world.”

Dr. Anne Schuchat, Acting Director of the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said “constant innovation has been key to improving vaccination coverage and reaching more children with the polio vaccine.

“The unrelenting commitment and support of these global leaders will help us do just that – and ultimately end this disease for everyone and forever.

CDC remains deeply committed to polio eradication and has contributed US$2.28 billion since the beginning of the initiative”.