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Gates Foundation, Rotary International Renew Partnership To Eradicate Polio

“Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have renewed a fundraising partnership they hope will inject millions of new dollars into the final push to eradicate polio, a goal both say is closer than ever,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Under the agreement, the Gates Foundation said it will match two to one every new dollar that Rotary commits to polio eradication up to $35 million a year over five years,” the newspaper writes, noting, “That could total $525 million, including $175 million from the Rotary Foundation and $350 million from the Gates Foundation for polio immunization programs, the organizations said” (McKay, 6/25). “The joint effort, called End Polio Now — Make History Today, comes during a critical phase for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative [GPEI],” according to an article from Rotary International. “The estimated cost of the [GPEI's] 2013-18 Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan is $5.5 billion,” and current funding commitments, “announced at the Global Vaccine Summit in April, total $4 billion,” the article writes, noting, “Unless the $1.5 billion funding gap is met, immunization levels in polio-affected countries will decrease.”

“We will combine the strength of Rotary’s network with our resources, and together with the other partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), we will not just end a disease but change the face of public health forever,” Jeff Raikes, chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a recorded message shown at the Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal, on Tuesday, according to the Rotary article (Nixon/Grahl, 6/25). “Only 69 cases of polio were reported globally so far this year as of June 19, and an independent board monitoring the global eradication effort recently said halting transmission of the disease by the end of 2014 is ‘a realistic prospect,'” the Wall Street Journal writes, adding, “The number of cases has declined substantially from 1,352 reported in 2010, and the virus is endemic in pockets of only three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria” (6/25).