Thursday, December 23, 2010

Google Inc. give UNICEF $4 million for polio vaccine distribution

From Relief Web:

The US Fund for UNICEF gratefully acknowledged receipt of a $4 million grant from Google, Inc. to address the critical fundraising gap of $14 million in UNICEF's Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) pipeline for outbreak response.

Recent outbreaks in Congo, Kenya, Liberia, and Tajikistan have diminished supply. Funds will enable UNICEF to ensure security in the vaccine pipeline and sustain its polio eradication program in 2011.

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that can spread rapidly through communities. Children under five years of age are the most vulnerable to the disease, which can lead to temporary or permanent muscle paralysis, disability, and deformities of the limbs. As a result, children who survive polio may spend their lives with severe disabilities. Approximately one out of every 200-400 children infected will suffer from paralysis and even death.

UNICEF and its partners are in the final push to eliminate polio. Since the inception of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, the number of polio cases reported annually has decreased by over 99 percent - from 350,000 in 1988 to 1,606 cases in 2009. Much work remains to ensure that this progress is permanent. Polio is still active in four endemic, four re-established, and eleven re-infected countries, and just this year, an outbreak in previously polio-free Tajikistan accounted for over 62 percent of new polio cases.

Google's significant contribution will be critical in empowering UNICEF staff to reach the children in greatest need and the hardest to reach. The grant will enable UNICEF to procure vaccines, funding social mobilization and operational costs as part of the immunization campaigns. UNICEF and its network of national committees, which includes the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, will leverage resources for additional funding in support of the shortfall.