October/November 2012 Polio Eradication Updates.
3,000 miles for 3 minutes: A global call to end polio by Bill Gates, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
This week, I am heading from Seattle to New York to speak for 180 seconds. I will be talking at a United Nations meeting about the fight to eradicate polio. I am very passionate on the subject, and I usually prefer to discuss it for hours at a time. In this case, however, I am happy to stop at three minutes. Because the reason my time is short is that so many people are committed to eradication we can barely all squeeze into the program.
When the UN event on ending polio is one of the hottest tickets in town, you know you are witnessing an extraordinary moment of global solidarity. And the timing couldn't be better, because we're at a particularly critical juncture in the fight.
New polio cases are the lowest they've ever been and there are currently just three countries, down from 125 in 1988, where polio is still endemic: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. India has defeated polio and Angola has defeated it twice. We have never been this close.
In New York, the world's leaders will show how seriously they take this opportunity and pledge not to let it slip through our fingers.
On Thursday, the presidents of all three endemic countries are scheduled to be in New York to talk about their personal commitment to wiping polio out of their countries. They'll also describe how they're holding leaders at all levels of their governments accountable for results.
The three presidents will be joined by representatives from many existing and newer donors to polio eradication: Australia, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as Rotary International.
And by brand new donors: for example, the Islamic Development Bank, which is stepping up with contributions to support efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Also joining is the president of our partners FC Barcelona and the FC Barcelona Foundation, who with their partners Etisalat, a Middle East telecommunications company, will be working to engage a global movement in support of polio eradication.
This amazing group is coming to New York because UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon has made it clear that ending polio is among his top five global health priorities.
Eradicating a disease is very hard to do—so hard that it's only been done once in the history of the world. But the world is coming together with the financial resources, the political commitment, and the innovation necessary to do something absolutely extraordinary, to protect every child everywhere from this preventable disease.
When we succeed, the disease will be gone, but the lessons we learned from this fight will remain. We will be able to build on them to vaccinate more children from more diseases and save millions more lives, to mobilize more countries to donate to global health, and to inspire more heads of state to put development at the top of their list of priorities.
That's a lot of impact, and that is why I am travelling 3,000 miles to say 300 words.
Rotary International has made a new funding commitment of US$75 million over three years to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative <http://www.polioeradication.org/> (GPEI). Rotary, which has alreadycontributed nearly $1.2 billion to the GPEI, announced the commitmentat a 27 September high-level side event on polio eradication, convenedby United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the UnitedNations General Assembly in New York.
The side event -- "Our Commitment to the Next Generation: The Legacy of a Polio-free World" -- brought together leaders of the remaining endemic countries, and representatives of donorgovernments, development agencies, the GPEI partners, and the media to underscore theurgent need to finish the job of global polio eradication. Although the wild poliovirus isendemic only in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria, other countries are still at risk for reestablished transmission of the virus through its "importation" from the endemics.
Ban urged UN member states to ramp up their support for the GPEI, launched in 1988 by Rotary, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control andPrevention. The partnership now includes the support of the Bill & Melinda GatesFoundation and the United Nations Foundation.
"This decisive moment is a matter of health and justice. Every child should have the right to start life with equal protection from this disease. That's why I have made eradicating polio a toppriority for my second term as Secretary-General," said Ban.
"Governments need to step up and honor their commitments to polio eradication if we are to achieve our goal of a polio-free world,"said Wilfrid Wilkinson, chair of The Rotary Foundation. "We are ata true tipping point, with success never closer than it is right now.We must seize the advantage by acting immediately, or risk breaking our pledge to the world's children."
"The evidence is clear: if we all do our part, we can and will end this disease. But we must act quickly and give ourselves the very best chance to succeed," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the leading donors to the GPEI. "When we defeat polio, it will motivate us to aim for other great health and development milestones."
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB), a
new donor to the polio
"Failure to eradicate polio is unforgiveable, forever. Failure is not an option. No single one of us can bring this long, hard drive over the last hurdle. But together we can," said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization.
Rotary and its GPEI partners have reached more than 2.5 billion children with the oral polio vaccine, preventing more than 8 million cases of paralysis and hundreds of thousands of pediatric deaths. Rotary's chief responsibilities in the initiative are fundraising and advocacy, an increasingly important role as the polio end game draws near.
Earlier this month, Rotary launched a new website <http://www.endpolio.org/> to garner greater support for the global polio eradication effort. More than 6,000 visitors signed a petition on the site calling for world leaders to commit additional resources to close the funding gap. Wilkinson presented the signatures on Rotary's behalf during the UN polio eradication side event. Visitors to the site can also estimate the potential dollar value they can generate by sharing the polio eradication message through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.
"The unwavering commitment of Rotary members has been vital to the incredible progress of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative," said Wilkinson. "How critically important it is for the global community to seize this historic opportunity before us to end polio now."
Funding announcement to come during special UN General Assembly session to rally support for global eradication of crippling childhood disease
EVANSTON, Ill., Sept. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Rotary International plans to contribute US $75 million over three years to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative as part of a worldwide effort to close a $945 million funding gap that threatens to derail the 24 year-old global health effort, even as new polio cases are at an all-time low.
Rotary, which already has contributed more than $1.2 billion to stop this crippling childhood disease, will announce its new funding commitment in New York City on Sept. 27 during a special side-event on polio eradication convened by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly.
Secretary-General Ban, who has made polio eradication a top priority of his second term, is expected to issue a strong call urging UN member states to ramp up their support for the polio eradication initiative, launched in 1988 by Rotary, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The partnership now includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations Foundation.
The New York event will include two panel sessions with remarks by Wilf Wilkinson, chair of The Rotary Foundation; Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation; and top leaders and heads of state from the remaining polio-endemic countries and key donor countries. The wild poliovirus is now endemic only to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria, although other countries remain at risk for re-established cases imported from the endemics.
"It is imperative that governments step up and honor their commitments to polio eradication if we are to achieve our goal of a polio-free world," said Wilkinson. "We are at a true tipping point, with success never closer than it is right now. We must seize the advantage by acting immediately, or risk breaking our pledge to the world's children."
The urgency at the UN follows action taken in May by the World Health Assembly, which declared polio eradication to be a "programmatic emergency for global public health." Although new polio cases are at an all-time low – fewer than 140 worldwide so far this year – the $945 million shortfall has already affected several scheduled immunization activities in polio-affected countries and could derail the entire program unless the gap is bridged. If eradication fails and polio rebounds, up to 200,000 children a year could be paralyzed.
Polio cases have plummeted by more than 99 percent since 1988, when the disease infected about 350,000 children a year. Fewer than 700 new cases were reported in 2011. Rotary and its partners have reached more than 2.5 billion children with the oral polio vaccine, preventing more than five million cases of paralysis and hundreds of thousands of pediatric deaths.
Rotary's chief responsibilities in the initiative are fundraising and advocacy, a role of increasing importance as the end game draws near. In early September, Rotary launched a new, interactive website -- endpolionow.org – intended to educate, activate and inspire visitors to actively support the polio eradication effort. Visitors are encouraged to sign a petition calling for world leaders to commit additional resources to close the funding gap. The e-signatures will be presented to Secretary-General Ban in New York. Site visitors can also estimate the potential dollar value they can generate by sharing the polio eradication message through social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Earlier this year, Rotary raised $228 million in new money for polio eradication in response to a $355 million challenge grant from the Gates Foundation, which promptly contributed an additional $50 million in recognition of Rotary's commitment.
Rotary is a global humanitarian organization with more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary members are men and women who are business, professional and community leaders with a shared commitment to make the world a better place through humanitarian service. To access broadcast quality video footage and still images of Rotary members immunizing children against polio available go to: Media Center..