A global effort to rid the world of a crippling disease has taken another step forward.
For the past three years the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been working in partnership with Rotary organisations around the world to fund a vaccination programme which should see polio eradicated once and for all.
The Rotary Club of Douglas has been at the forefront of the island’s campaign and wants to make an extra fund-raising effort to support the initiative.
The club’s Kevin Kneen said: ‘We’ve never stopped the push. It’s an on-going thing.We are continuing to speak to schools and other organisations and we did a talk down at the Erin Arts Centre recently.
‘We really want to make people aware and remind them of the campaign and renew our offer to go and talk to schools or organisations to spread the message.’
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that any money raised by Rotary would be matched two for one up to $35m per year.
Mr Kneen added: ‘If people are kind enough to make a further donation that’s great because it is effectively three times face value now because of the two for one matched funding.’
In addition he said the government had committed £30,000 per year in overseas aid to the project for the next three years.
‘It costs about 50 pence to immunise a child against polio,’ Mr Kneen said. ‘The way I see it is, if a person donates just £1, with the benefit of that matched funding it means six children can be immunised.’
The projected cost of eradicating the disease, which causes paralysis and death, over the next five years is $5.5 billion. There is currently a $1.5 billion funding gap which needs to be addressed to prevent immunisation levels in those countries still affected from falling and the disease starting to re-estblish itself.
The project started in 2007 when the Gates Foundation gave a $100 million challenge grant for polio eradication, and in 2009, increased it to $355 million. Anyone wanting to be involved, arrange a guest speaker or make a donation contact Kevin Kneen at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.douglasrotary.org.