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Rotary International released an additional $34.8 million in grants to support polio immunization activities in 10 countries, including Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan, the three countries where the disease has never been stopped.
The funds, whose release was announced 20 January, will be used by the World Health Organization and UNICEF for polio immunization and surveillance activities in the 10 countries, as well as to provide technical assistance in several other countries in Africa.
The grants include $8.1 million for Nigeria to support its final push to eradicate the disease. Nigeria experienced a nearly 90 percent reduction in cases in 2014 compared with the previous year, and hasn't registered a new case of polio in the last six months.
"Nigeria has managed an incredible feat," says Dr. Tunji Funsho, Rotary's PolioPlus chair for Nigeria. "However, now we must be more vigilant than ever, as our progress is fragile."
Commitment to polio eradication from all levels of the Nigerian government has proved crucial to the country's recent progress. Disease experts are urging political leaders to maintain this focus as national elections approach next month.
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