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Joint press release

Canada provides additional funding to the final assault against polio

GENEVA/NEW YORK, 11 March 2004 - The spearheading partners in the global fight to eradicate polio – the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF – today welcomed Canada’s announcement of an additional US $9.7 million (C $13 million) to support the global polio eradication campaign.

The contribution comes in response to an intensification of eradication efforts in the few countries that remain polio-endemic. The global polio partners have been working with countries to head off an outbreak of polio that has spread from Nigeria to previously polio-free areas of west and central Africa.

“These new funds come at a critical juncture for us,” said Dr David Heymann, Representative for Polio Eradication, WHO. “Polio has been beaten back to just a few remaining strongholds, mainly in Nigeria, India and Pakistan. The goal is to finish the job by the end of 2004 – but to succeed, eradication efforts must be intensified, and this means more financial resources are urgently needed. This contribution from Canada could not come at a more important time.”

The donation, made through the Canadian International Development Agency to WHO and UNICEF, becomes the most recent contribution made in fulfilment of the G8’s pledge to support polio eradication. Launched at the G8 Summit in Kananaskis, Canada, in 2002, the "Africa Action Plan" commits G8 leaders to, among other things, providing the financial resources needed to eradicate polio in both Africa and worldwide by the end of 2004. Canada, as host of the June 2002 Summit, led the way in fulfilling this pledge by committing US $32 million over three years.

Carol Bellamy, UNICEF Executive Director, praised Canada’s announcement, saying:  “Canada has been a consistent ally of African children, and this latest contribution is yet another example of Canada’s real commitment to development in the region. The Canadian Government’s generosity may prove critical as Africa fights to contain the spread of polio from Nigeria into neighbouring countries. The new resources will help Africa win this fight and bring the world closer to becoming polio-free.”

The contribution is in addition to a commitment by CIDA to provide one dollar for every three dollars raised by Canadian Rotarians for polio eradication. With funds from Canadian Rotarians expected to total US $6.75 million, CIDA will provide US $2.25 million in matching funds, bringing the total contributions made by Canada to the global fight against polio to more than US $95 million since 1988.

“Rotary has made ending polio its main philanthropic goal since 1985,” said Jonathan Majiyagbe, President, Rotary International. “On behalf of my fellow 1.2 million Rotarians around the world, and in particular on behalf of the 29, 000 Canadian Rotarians, I commend Canada’s commitment to working with us to achieve our shared goal of a polio-free world. Together, this unique public-private partnership can ensure that no child need ever again suffer the pain of polio-paralysis.”

The partners warned, however, that a shortage of funds stands in the way of a polio-free world, and urged the global community to follow Canada’s lead and provide the necessary resources.

The poliovirus is now circulating in only six countries, down from over 125 when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched in 1988. The six countries with indigenous wild poliovirus are: Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Niger, Afghanistan and Egypt.

For further information, please contact:
Melissa Corkum, WHO/Geneva, tel. +41 22 791 2765, corkumm@who.int
Oliver Rosenbauer, WHO/Geneva, tel. +41 22 791 3832, rosenbauero@who.int
Vivian Fiore, Rotary Int’l/Chicago, tel. +1 847 866 3234, fiorev@rotaryintl.org
Amanda White, CDC/Atlanta, tel. +1 404 639 8154, aqw9@cdc.gov
Claire Hajaj, UNICEF/New York, +1 212 326-7566, chajaj@unicef.org

For further information on the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, please see www.polioeradication.org, Rotary International’s PolioPlus site at http://www.rotary.org/foundation/polioplus/, www.cdc.gov, or the polio site on www.unicef.org/polio




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