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Pushing Polio to the Brink of Eradication

Rotary clubs take on $200 million challenge from the Gates Foundation

Rotary clubs here and around the world are determined to do whatever it takes to achieve a world free of the crippling disease polio. A major part of that effort is to raise $200 million in response to a challenge grant of $355 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

That may seem a daunting task, but Rotary's track record shows it can be done with perseverance and hard work. Since launching its landmark PolioPlus Program in 1985 we have contributed nearly $800 million to the cause, not to mention countless volunteer hours logged by Rotary members.

Although the polio epidemic may be a distant memory to many-- cases have been slashed by 99 percent worldwide -- it still threatens children in parts of Africa and South Asia. For 50p worth of oral polio vaccine, a child can be protected for life.

However, a major funding gap now faces the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, of which Rotary is a spearheading partner (along with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF). Twenty years of steady progress is at stake, and polio -- now on the ropes -- stands to stage a dangerous comeback unless the funding gap is bridged.

In response to the funding crisis, Rotary eagerly accepted a US$355 million challenge grant from the Gates Foundation, which Rotary will match with an additional US$200 million over three years, raising a much needed US$555 million, all of it dedicated to polio eradication.

Rotary's worldwide membership of 1.2 million men and women -- representing about 33,000 clubs in nearly 200 countries -- immediately embraced the effort by digging deeper into their own pockets, planning special fundraisers and rallying community support.

Verwood Rotary have donated more than double their target allocation a full year ahead of the end date

Rotary invites everyone who wants to learn more about this historic opportunity to end polio once and for all to visit: