Government of Canada thanks Rotary International for its efforts to eradicate polio

OTTAWA, May 1, 2013 /CNW/ - On April 30, Canada's Minister of International Cooperation, the Honourable Julian Fantino, made a formal statement in the House of Commons thanking Rotary International for its efforts to eradicate polio.

Rotary International has been dedicated to global polio eradication since 1985, and the Canadian government has been a staunch, longtime supporter of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). To date, Canada has committed more than US$580.7 million to this fight. Canadian Rotary clubs have raised approximately US$25 million toward eradication efforts, most recently through its Pennies and More for Polio initiative.

The Pennies and More for Polio fundraising effort, led by more than 25,000 Canadian Rotary club members, encouraged the Canadian public to donate its spare change for polio eradication. The government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation both matched, dollar for dollar, the funds raised by Canadian Rotarians in this nationwide effort.

Overall, Rotary has contributed more than US$1.2 billion to fight polio.

Last month, the GPEI announced a polio eradication endgame plan, laying a clear pathway to eliminate polio by 2018. This plan requires US$5.5 billion in upfront funding to ensure successful eradication of the disease. Recognizing the opportunity to further contribute to a polio-free world, Minister Fantino announced Canada's long-term commitment to polio eradication with a US$243.5 million pledge.

"The Harper Government congratulates Canadians and Rotarians for their impressive fundraising achievements aimed at ending polio once and for all," said Minister Fantino. "In partnership with all Canadians, Rotarians and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada will continue to play a leading role in global efforts to eradicate this devastating disease."

"Rotary would like to extend its heartfelt thanks to the Canadian government for the critical advocacy and financial support it has provided for polio eradication. Thanks to Canada's aid, we are on the precipice of beating this disease," said Wilfrid Wilkinson, chair of The Rotary Foundation Trustees. "This new, long-term commitment from Canada brings us closer to achieving a world where no child has to suffer from the effects of polio."

Thus far in 2013, only 22 polio cases have been reported, down nearly 50% from the same time last year. Worldwide in 2012, fewer than 240 polio cases were confirmed, an all-time low.

Overall, the annual number of polio cases has plummeted by more than 99 percent since the 1980s, when polio infected about 350,000 children a year. More than two billion children have been immunized in 122 countries, preventing an estimated five million cases of paralysis and 250,000 deaths.

About Rotary
Rotary is a global humanitarian organization with more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary members are men and women who are business, professional and community leaders with a shared commitment to make the world a better place through humanitarian service. The first Rotary club was founded in Chicago in 1905.

To download images and video please visit Rotary's Media Center: http://rotary.synapticdigital.com/

CONTACT: Michelle Kloempken (847) 866-3247 or Petina Dixon-Jenkins (847) 866-3054 petina.dixon@rotary.org

SOURCE: Rotary International

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