British, German governments pledge US$280 million to end polio
A young child is inoculated for polio in Niger, Africa. Photo by Rotary Images/Alyce Henson
The British and German governments today committed a total of $280 million in new funds to fight polio, and urged additional donors and leaders of countries where polio still exists to join them in an aggressive push for eradication.
The announcement coincided with one by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that it is awarding an additional $255 million challenge grant to Rotary, which Rotary will match with $100 million raised by its members over the next three years. The money from the United Kingdom and Germany during the next five years will not count toward what has now become Rotary’s US$200 Million Challenge.
The United Kingdom committed £100 million ($150 million) and Germany committed €100 million ($130 million), both to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Rotary’s chief role as a spearheading partner in the initiative is fundraising, advocacy, and mobilizing volunteers. The announcements were made Wednesday morning during Rotary’s International Assembly, the annual training event for incoming district governors held in San Diego, California, USA.
“This £100 million pledge by the UK government, combined with the money from our other partners, is a massive boost in the battle to rid the world of the scourge of polio,” said UK International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander. “We have already significantly increased the number of vaccinations for those people most at risk, and there has been real progress in reducing the number of new infections. Now is the time to make the final push to eradicate polio. This investment will ensure future generations in the developing world will no longer have their lives blighted by this crippling disease.”
The polio eradication initiative faces an ongoing funding shortfall that must be closed if eradication is to be achieved. With these new investments -- along with contributions received from Canada, Russia, the United States, and other donors -- the shortfall for 2009-10 is $340 million. The new funding from Germany will further reduce the gap.
“G-8 countries pledged repeatedly to take all necessary steps to eradicate polio,” said Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, German minister for Economic Cooperation and Development. “Germany has contributed significantly to living up to this commitment. We urge other countries to join us in closing the funding gap and ensuring that health workers have the support they need to protect the world’s children from polio.”
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