Rotary donates N1.54b for polio eradication in Nigeria
*As Nigeria goes six months without a case
AS Nigeria marks six months without a new case of polio, Rotary has announced $8.1 in grants to help the country in its final push to eradicate the disease within its borders.
The fund according to the club will be used by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support polio immunization campaigns, research and surveillance in the country.
As recent as 2012, Nigeria, which is the last polio-endemic country in Africa, reported the highest
number of polio cases in the world. However, the country showed remarkable progress in 2014, when it reduced its polio case count by nearly 90% over the previous year.
The funding commitment from Rotary comes at a critical time, as the country has a prime opportunity to take advantage of these gains and end the disease for good.
In a press release made available to The Guardian, Chairman, Rotary’s National PolioPlus for Nigeria, Dr. Tunji Funsho said that the country has made a remarkable progress in the push to make the country polio-free.
According to him, “Nigeria has managed an incredible feat. Our country has gone six months
without a new case of the disease. However, now we must be more vigilant than ever, as our progress is fragile.”
In similar vein, Nollywood actress and Rotary polio ambassador, Funke
Akindele noted that the country has made incredible progress against polio this past year, adding, “I’m
proud to see our country reduced cases by nearly 90% in 2014. With funds from Rotary, the continued support of Rotarians in Nigeria and around the world, I believe there will be a day when no child in Nigeria will be at risk of this disease.”
Meanwhile, experts have urged political leaders to maintain focus even in the midst of the upcoming general elections and sought commitment from all levels of government to end the paralyzing disease.
It is worthy of note that recent polio outbreaks in the Horn of Africa and Central Africa stemmed from
poliovirus that originated in Nigeria. These outbreaks appear to have been effectively stopped in 2014, however, the continued presence of the virus in Nigeria puts countries in Africa at-risk for renewed outbreaks.
As a result of this and in addition to the $8.1 million in funds given to Nigeria to help stem this spread, Rotary has committed $18.5 million to be divided amongst an additional seven countries in Africa. The grants include $1.6 million given to Cameroon, $2.5 million for Chad, $3.3 million for Democratic Republic of Congo, $1.1 million for Ethiopia, $250,000 for Kenya, $2.8 million for Niger and $7 million for Somalia.
Outside of Africa, Rotary also announced grants of $1.1 million for Pakistan and $6.7 million for Afghanistan. Together with Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the two other countries in the world where polio has never been stopped.
To date, Rotary has contributed more than $1.3 billion to fight polio. In 2014, there were only 350 confirmed polio cases in the world, down from about 350,000 a year when the initiative launched in 1988.
Funsho disclosed that Rotary provides grant funding to polio eradication initiative partners, UNICEF and the World Health Organization, which work with governments and others in polio-affected countries to plan and carry out immunization activities, stating, “Mass polio immunizations must continue until global eradication is achieved.”