By Kang Shin-who
Rotary International was given the highest single donation in its 102-year history. The money was for its polio eradication project.
Rotary Foundation, a worldwide organization engaged in humanitarian service, Monday received $100 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its fight against the disease. The donation is also the largest amount ever given by the Gates foundation.
Rotary has worked to eradicate polio as its top project since 1985 and contributed $633 million for the mission so far. Polio is a crippling and sometimes fatal disease.
``The extraordinary dedication of Rotary members has played a critical role in bringing polio to the brink of eradication,’’ said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill Gates Foundation. ``Eradicating polio will be one of the most significant public health accomplishments in history, and we are committed to helping reach that goal.’’
Although the number of polio cases has been slashed by 99 percent over the past two decades, the wild polio virus still persists in four countries: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. The polio cases represented by that final one percent are the most costly to prevent due to such factors as geographical isolation, worker fatigue, low coverage with the vaccine, armed conflict and cultural barriers.
Rotary itself will also raise funds to match the amount of donation over three years. Most of the donation will be spent in support of mass immunization campaigns in polio-affected countries, polio virus surveillance activities, community education and outreach.