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Rotary International, Gates Foundation increase commitments to end polio

Rotary International’s efforts to end polio have received another multi-million dollar boost through a partnership with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Recently at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, it was announced Rotary will be increasing its commitment to polio eradication to $50 million per year over the next three years.

The Gates Foundation in turn is increasing its matching funds (two-to-one) to $100 million a year over the next three years.

In total, the two organizations have pledged $150 million and $300 million over the next three years.

In total, the convention resulted in more than $1.2 billion being pledged, with Canada committing $100 million to mark the 100th anniversary of The Rotary Foundation.

David Andrews, president of The Rotary Club of Oshawa-Parkwood said the announcements were not only “welcome news, but a great challenge” to Rotarians worldwide.

“He [Bill Gates] is expecting Rotarians to do their best,” Andrews said, adding that he believes Gates can have confidence that Rotarians “can get the job done” as advocates for polio eradication.

Andrews said since 1988 there has been a 99.9 per cent worldwide reduction in polio cases.

In fact, polio was only reported in three countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, in 2016.

“Back in 1988, more than 1,000 children a day were getting polio,” Andrews said.

This year, the Oshawa-Parkwood club has individually contributed $28,045 to polio eradication efforts, primarily through member donations.

One of Rotary’s largest fundraisers of the year will be held locally this year.

The 2017 Rotary Foundation walk will be held September 10 at the Heydenshore Pavilion in Whitby, bringing together 56 clubs.

For more information on Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio worldwide, visit rotary.org