By Doyin Ojosipe
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 funds will be used by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF to support polio immunization campaigns, research and surveillance in the country.
Nigeria, the last polio-endemic country in Africa, reported the highest number of polio cases in the world as recently as 2012. 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.
“Nigeria has made incredible progress against polio this past year and I’m proud to see our country reduced cases by nearly 90% in 2014,” said Funke Akindele, Nollywood actress and Rotary polio ambassador. “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.”
“Nigeria has managed an incredible feat,” said Dr. Tunji Funsho, Rotary’s National PolioPlus Chair for Nigeria. “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 addition to the $8.1 million in funds for Nigeria, Rotary has committed $18.5 million to be divided amongst an additional seven countries in Africa. The grants include $1.6 million, Cameroon: $2.5 million, Chad; $3.3 million, Democratic Republic of Congo; $1.1 million, Ethiopia; $250,000, Kenya; $2.8 million, Niger; and $7 million, 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.