Rotary International on Tuesday hosted Bill Gates, Jr., at Rotary’s International Assembly in San Diego, CA.
Speaking to 2009-2010 district governors-elect, Bill Gates, Jr. congratulated Rotarians on the success of the partnership between Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to raise funds for polio. To date, Rotarians have already committed more than $60 million toward the original $100 million Gates challenge grant awarded in November 2007.
In recognizing Rotary’s fundraising success and commitment to polio eradication, Gates announced today that his foundation has decided to increase its challenge grant by $255 million – for a total of $355 million. By accepting the increase, Rotary also accepts the challenge to raise an additional $100 million in matching funds by June 30, 2012 and drives the combined Rotary and Gates Foundation partnership’s commitment to a total of $555 million.
All of the resulting $555 million will be spent in support of immunization activities carried out by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in polio-affected countries. The initiative is spearheaded by Rotary, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF.
The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development pledged $150 million in U.S. dollars and the German government is giving an additional $130 million in U.S. dollars, both to the GPEI. Contributions from the U.K. and Germany are separate and will not count toward Rotary’s match of the Gates Foundation challenge grant.
Although the initiative has reduced the number of polio cases by 99 percent over the past two decades, the wild poliovirus still persists in four countries – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan – and imported cases from these endemic countries threaten other developing nations.
The Rotary International Board of Directors and the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation have unanimously agreed to accept this challenge grant to ensure the success of the PolioPlus program.
For more information, visit www.rotary.org.