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Rotary Releases $8.1 Million To End Polio In Nigeria

As Nigeria marks six months without a new case of polio, the Rotary Club has announced $8.1 in grants to help the country in its final push to eradicate the disease within its borders.

The funds will be used by the World Health Organization, WHO, and UNICEF to support polio immunization campaigns, research and surveillance in the country.

Nigeria, the last polio-endemic country in Africa, reported the highest number of polio cases in the world as recently as 2012.
However, the country showed remarkable progress in 2014, when it reduced its polio case count by nearly 90% over the previous year.

The funding commitment comes at a critical time, as the country has a prime opportunity to take advantage of these gains and end the disease for good.

“Nigeria has made incredible progress against polio this past year and I’m proud to see our country reduced cases by nearly 90% in 2014,”said Funke Akindele, Nollywood actress and Rotary polio ambassador.

“With funds from Rotary, the continued support of Rotarians in Nigeria and around the world, I believe there will be a day when no child in Nigeria will be at risk of this disease,” she stated.

“Nigeria has managed an incredible feat,” said Dr. Tunji Funsho, Rotary’s National PolioPlus chair for Nigeria. “Our country has gone six months without a new case of the disease. However, now we must be more vigilant than ever, as our progress is fragile.”

Commitment from all levels of the Nigerian government to ending the paralyzing disease has proved crucial to the country’s recent progress. Experts urge political leaders to maintain this focus, even amidst Nigeria’s upcoming national elections next month.

Recent polio outbreaks in the Horn of Africa and Central Africa stemmed from poliovirus that originated in Nigeria. These outbreaks appear to have been effectively stopped in 2014; however, the continued presence of the virus in Nigeria puts countries in Africa at-risk for renewed outbreaks.

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