The Smithville Rotary Club will join with more than 32,000 Rotary clubs around the world Thursday, October 24 in the celebration of World Polio Day. Rotary International has been involved with other world health organizations (WHOs) for over thirty years in attempting to eradicate polio around the world. The effort has been successful in immunizing children against polio in all but two countries around the world but further efforts must continue.
In 2007, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recognized Rotary's passion and support for polio eradication and entered into a partnership to eliminate polio. Initially, the Gates Foundation gave the Rotary Foundation a $100 million challenge grant which matched two-to-one for every dollar that Rotarians raised and increased the grant in 2009 to $355 million. Rotary agreed to raise $200 million in matching funding by June 30, 2012 but actually, Rotarians raised $228.7 million.
World Polio Day begins a bold chapter in the partnership between the Rotary and the Gates Foundation in their continuing support of the worldwide campaign to eradicate polio. As announced at the Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal, earlier this year, the Gates Foundation will match two-to-one, up to $35 million per year, every dollar commits to reduce the funding shortfall for polio eradication through 2018.
This continuing effort, called "End Polio Now-Make History Today," comes during a critical phase for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which includes most WHOs. The estimated cost of the initiative's 2013-2018 program is $5.5 billion. Funding commitments announced at the Global Vaccine Summit last April totaled $4 billion. The Rotary/Gates Foundation fund raising can reduce or eliminate this deficit.
Your Smithville Rotary Club asks for our community's support in doing our part to stamp out polio "once and for all". If you wish to support this cause, contributions may be made to the "Rotary Foundation" or "Smithville Rotary Club" and be dropped off at the Smithville Review or First Bank. Let's make a difference.