New pledges to close polio funding gap

Rotary International volunteers carry vaccine boxes during an end polio campaign in India. New pledges were announced in support of global efforts to eradicate the disease during a high-level event in New York. Photo by: Gates Foundation / CC BY-NC-ND

The global drive to eradicate polio secured new financial and political commitments at a high-level event held Sept. 27 in New York, USA.

As anticipated, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced at the gathering — which featured public and private stakeholders — that he is elevating the eradication of polio as a top priority for his second term as head of the global body.

The heads of Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, meanwhile, committed to continue working to end polio in their countries. These three are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic. Among challenges faced by polio eradication efforts in these countries are the conflict in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the drought and insecurity in West Africa.

A number of new pledges were announced at the event in support of global efforts to eradicate the disease and to help fill a $945 million funding gap:

  • The Islamic Development Bank, a new donor to the cause, has approved a three-year $227 million loan to fund polio vaccination campaigns in Pakistan and a $3 million grant for similar activities in Afghanistan.

  • Canada pledged to match donations raised by Rotary International members in the country for polio eradication efforts up to $1 million. This Pennies and More for Polio Initiative also involves the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which pledged matching funds of up to $1 million.

  • Rotary International promised to donate $75 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative over three years.

  • The United Kingdom has released its 25 million pounds ($40.5 million) contribution to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.