Rotary International District 3860 officials (from left) Edgar Chiongbian, Ibarra Panopio and Teodoro Locson in a press briefing Friday at the Grand Regal Hotel in Davao City.  (davaotoday.com photo by Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan)

Rotary International District 3860 officials (from left) Edgar Chiongbian, Ibarra Panopio and Teodoro Locson in a press briefing Friday at the Grand Regal Hotel in Davao City. (davaotoday.com photo by Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan)

“Bill Gates promised to take care of one-third of the foundation’s budget to eradicate polio.” — Ibarra Panopio, District Rotary Foundation Chair

By MARILOU AGUIRRE-TUBURAN
Davao today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – No less than one of the world’s wealthiest is donating a hefty amount of money for the Rotary International’s (RI) “Future Vision” project come 2014.

This was revealed by top officials of the RI District 3860 which comprises a total of 94 clubs in the areas of Cebu, Bohol, Dumaguete, Samar-Leyte, Surigao-Butuan, Davao-Gen. Santos and South Cotabato.

“Bill Gates promised to take care of one-third of the foundation’s budget to eradicate polio,” Ibarra Panopio, District Rotary Foundation Chair, told reporters here Friday.

The estimated budget for the said worldwide project is USD 3-5 Billion.  If the commitment is kept, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will donate at least USD 1B.

Polio eradication is the top priority of the Gates’s, according to its website.  It said they contribute technical and financial resources to their Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners with strategies like targeted vaccination campaigns, community mobilization and stronger routine immunization efforts.

Panopio said the Gates’s Foundation has given their organization USD 400 Million in the past years.  He claimed RI is one of the five most honored foundations in the United States with reference to Return of Investments and “stewardship of the money.”

By stewardship, he means, the money is being spent well and thoroughly audited.

Panopio also said around USD 400 Million is being contributed by many countries worldwide through the “intercession of many influential members” of their organization.

RI has about 1.2 Billion members across the globe, said Edgar Chiongbian, the RI District 3860’s Governor-elect.  He added their organization is “the biggest, most prestigious service organization in the world.”

The RI’s member-clubs will be the implementing arm of the various projects which focused on education, hunger and water, among others, said Philip Tan, secretary-elect of RI’s District 3860.

He shared they were “the first to organize” the relief campaign when typhoon Pablo devastated the Davao Region.  Their clubs, particularly in the cities of Davao and Tagum, immediately responded with “millions of pesos of contribution from all rotary clubs in the country.”

“It’s one of the areas where Rotary International comes in, to extend help during times of emergencies,” Tan said, noting they have other projects based on the needs of the communities within their scope, and not only limited to the polio-eradication, their organization’s flagship program,

RI’s District 3860 was allotted by their Foundation with a sum of almost USD 23,000 to implement their projects next year.

Panopio said the Foundation gives grants to member-clubs whose application fulfills the area of focus, and that they will agree with the terms of stewardship.

He said they chose the program against polio because the disease has ravaged especially the poorest countries in the world, next to small pox.  He said this could be eradicated by giving early vaccines.

In the past years, Panopio said, Rotarians and their member-clubs have been mobilized to assist the administration of polio vaccines, especially during the National Immunization days.

“We are on the verge of eradicating polio,” Panopio said, citing that only two countries remain with polio cases, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The cases in these countries, he said, dwindled from hundreds to 22, as of 2013.

According to the United Nations Foundation, polio which can cause lifelong paralysis has been prevented after international efforts to immunize children were advanced.  In the ‘80s, it said, polio paralyzed 1,000 children every day around the world.  But now, it noted, “the world is almost polio-free” with “five million people walking who would otherwise be paralyzed.”

“Imagine a world where you will no longer see children crawling, or people walking in crutches.  This could be the first disease eliminated not by the government, but by the private sector,” Panopio said.  (Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/davaotoday.com)

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