By Daniel Otunge

Global war against polio disease is set to intensify, following a renewed commitment by two leading global philanthropies to raise more funds towards a polio-free world.

Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (B&MGF), have committed to raise additional $450 million to support the global polio eradication efforts.

To raise this amount, Rotary will donate $50 million every year for the next three years. The Gates Foundation will then match every dollar with two additional dollars, said John Germ, Past President of Rotary International who leads Rotary’s polio fundraising efforts.

In addition, Rotary also announced $45 million in funding for polio eradication activities in affected sub-Saharan African countries, such as Angola, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan. Other at-risk states to benefit from the funds are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan and the Philippines.

The funding will help support crucial polio eradication activities, such as immunization and disease detection, research, and community mobilization. Rotary-led global polio elimination efforts have saved about 19 million lives, according to recent reports.

“By partnering with the B&MGF, we’re ensuring that children in polio-affected countries get the lifesaving vaccines they need to be protected from polio for life,” Germ said.

In a video message to Rotary Volunteers, the Co-Chair of the B&MGF, Mr. Bill Gates, said his foundation’s longstanding partnership with Rotary has been vital to fighting polio, adding “I believe that together, we can make eradication a reality.”

Rotary has contributed more than $2 billion to fight polio, including matching funds from the Gates Foundation, and countless volunteer hours since launching its polio eradication program, PolioPlus, in 1985. Since then, polio incidence has fallen by more than 99.9 percent.

With these expanded efforts, it is foreseeable that Polio, a paralyzing and deadly disease, is on the verge of becoming the second human disease in history to be eradicated, after small pox.