EVANSTON, Ill., Dec. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Latter-day Saint (LDS) Charities has announced a new gift to Rotary of US$200,000 in support of the humanitarian organization's global efforts to eradicate polio. This contribution underscores LDS Charities' longtime commitment to ensuring all children have access to life-saving immunizations. This gift will be matched two-for-one by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation under the End Polio Now: Make History Today initiative.
Under the End Polio Now: Make History Today fundraising effort, initiated in conjunction with Rotary earlier this year, the Gates Foundation will match two-for-one every new dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication up to $35 million per year through 2018. As such, the generous gift from LDS Charities will triple, resulting in US$600,000 for polio eradication efforts.
"The synergy between our areas of focus makes collaboration with Rotary and LDS Charities a natural fit," said Sharon Eubank, director of humanitarian services at LDS Charities. "We are strongly committed to raising the number of children immunized across the world, and to reducing the number of lives lost to preventable diseases. We are thrilled to support Rotary's efforts to protect children from the crippling consequences of polio."
LDS Charities, a long-time supporter of Rotary's global polio eradication work, made its first contribution to this effort in 1988. At that time, the world saw nearly 350,000 cases of polio per year in 122 countries. Since that time, in large part thanks to donors like LDS Charities, this case count was reduced to just 223 cases in five countries in 2012, the lowest number of polio cases ever. However, until polio is eliminated in the remaining endemic countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria – children everywhere remain at risk. Recent polio outbreaks in the Horn of Africa and Syria underscore the crucial need to eradicate the disease at its source – the endemic countries – to rid the world of this threat forever.
"The generous contribution by LDS Charities comes at an important time for polio eradication," said Rotary's General Secretary John Hewko. "We have the capability to eliminate polio for good, making it only the second disease ever to eradicated, after smallpox. However, if we don't strike now, we risk losing our gains entirely, and seeing a resurgence of this devastating disease. We hope that LDS Charities' donation will inspire other private sector donors to step forward and contribute to this important cause."
Utah's Rotary District 5420 provided vital guidance and support to help facilitate this gift. LDS Charities is funded by contributions from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world's most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work impacts lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. For more information, visit Rotary.org.