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Rotary and Gates Foundation pledge $450 million to eradicate polio

Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged today to raise $450 million to support the end of polio.

The announcement was made in Atlanta Monday by Bill Gates and Rotary President John Germ during the 108th international meeting of  Rotary International, which brings more than 40,000 Rotarians together to address such issues as disease, water and sanitation and human trafficking. 

Rotary committed to raise $50 million annually over the next three years, with every dollar to be matched with two additional dollars from the Gates Foundation. Efforts would be focused on several areas including immunization and surveillance. 

The partnership has spanned more than a decade.

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Bill Gates, John Cena, Ashton Kutcher at Rotary’s Atlanta convention

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Polio is still endemic in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. 

According to the World Health Organization, polio is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. 

It can cause paralysis.

 “In 2016, fewer children were paralyzed by polio than ever before, thanks to the dedication of Rotary members and our partners,” Germ said in a statement. “The paralysis of even one child by a preventable disease is unacceptable, and I'm proud to see our members redoubling their commitment to ensure we reach every single child with the polio vaccine.” 

 The pledge by Rotary “ is a testament to the compassion, generosity, and kindness of more than a million Rotarians around the world,” Gates said.

 The announcement comes as governments through the world, as well as other donors, have committed to contribute $1.2 billion to polio eradication efforts. This pledge was also announced at the international conference at the Georgia World Congress Center. The funds will allow 450 million children to be immunized every year and provide disease surveillance in both endemic and at-risk polio-free nations.

The Rotary meeting will bring in representatives from 170 nations and pump an estimated $52.3 million impact into the local economy. This is the third time the international conference has been held in Atlanta - the first 100 years ago.

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