Gates Foundation letter addresses progress on polio
Bill Gates announces a new US$255 million challenge grant to Rotary in the global effort to eradicate polio during the International Assembly in San Diego. Rotary Images/Monika Lozinska-Lee
In a letter posted on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Web site this week, Bill Gates praises Rotary International's work for over two decades in fighting to eradicate polio and discusses the progress being made on ending the disease.
Gates cites the vital work of the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and Rotary International in the global effort to make polio the second disease to be eradicated, after smallpox. In referring to Rotary, the letter states that "we wouldn't be anywhere on this without their efforts."
The letter, the first in what is planned to be an annual exercise, outlines the goals of the Gates Foundation and the progress being made on those goals. Even though the foundation's assets fell by 20 percent last year, Gates says it will increase its giving to US$3.8 billion in 2009, about 7 percent of its assets.
Last week during the 2009 International Assembly, Gates announced a new US$255 million challenge grant to Rotary in the global effort to eradicate polio. In response to the new grant, Rotary will raise $100 million in matching funds. In November 2007, RI received a $100 million Gates Foundation grant, which Rotary committed to match by raising $100 million.
The two Gates Foundation grants total $355 million. Rotary International’s matching effort in response is called Rotary’s US$200 Million Challenge, which must be completed by 30 June 2012.
"Rotary International and other donors are doing a great job so far coming up with the extra resources that are needed (for polio eradication)," Gates states in the letter. "Just this month I went to a Rotary meeting and helped announce more than $600 million in new money from various sources that will go toward eradicating polio."
In addition to the Gates grant and Rotary's match, the governments of the United Kingdom and Germany have committed a combined $280 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Read a section of the annual letter from Bill Gates: Progress on Polio