News Release

The Church Donates US $10 Million to Stop Polio and Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus throughout Africa

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is supporting Rotary International to eradicate polio and UNICEF to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT). The Africa West region has seen polio outbreaks and maternal neonatal tetanus bring pain and suffering to our children. With renewed purpose, we can see an end to these preventable diseases within our lifetimes.
Rotary International has spent billions in recent decades to eradicate this crippling disease. The Africa West Area is especially concerned to see the resurgence of outbreaks in Nigeria, Senegal, and Mali. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is generously matching all donations to Rotary International for this effort 2 to 1, multiplying this $5 million donation to bless more of Heavenly Father’s children. We are grateful for the work of these organizations and desire for every parent to have the choice to prevent this paralyzing disease.
Due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, communities in countries like Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are seeing an outbreak of a reinvigorated virus.  Other African communities have also been affected.  Madagascar is reporting its first case of the wild virus is many years.  With this grant, a special African outbreak fund has been set aside by Rotary International and $2.5 million will be available for immediate outbreak response with the hope that this will help committed African nations to regain the lost ground during the Covid pandemic.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cares deeply about the impact polio has on children,” said Elder Alfred Kyungu of the Africa West Area Presidency. “On behalf of the Church and its membership in Africa, I express our deep gratitude to Rotary International for the significant work they do to help children and families on this beautiful continent live happier, healthier lives.”
Support to UNICEF with $5 million to strengthen their efforts to vaccinate women of childbearing age against tetanus, a deadly infection caused by bacteria in the soil, dirt, and rusted metals.
UNICEF and the World Health Organization work together to eliminate the spread of tetanus by administering vaccinations, training midwives on sterilization techniques and ensuring mothers have access to clean umbilical cord care.
MNT is a significant public health problem in Angola, Central African Republic, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria,  Sudan, and South Sudan.

“Thanks to the generous contribution from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, UNICEF and partners will be able to complete supplementary vaccination rounds to protect women of childbearing age and future neonates against maternal and neonatal tetanus; and conduct the rigorous surveys that are needed to ascertain elimination status. This funding is critically needed to help us get through the last mile and maintain momentum for elimination.” -- Dr Ephrem Tekle Lemango, Associate Director of Health and Chief of Immunization at UNICEF.

This $10 million grant will help these pioneering agencies bring an end to the unnecessary suffering of children here and throughout the world.


  1. Dr. Ahmed Ogwell Ouna – Acting Director – Africa Center for Disease Control (CDC)

With the new Public Health Order in Africa and with the help of partners like you, Africa can invest in innovation, commit to implementing the lessons learned over the years and work together to prioritize efforts toward eradicating the deadly disease – Polio and other childhood killer diseases. Polio eradication in Africa is now at 99% he said.

  1. President Umaro Sissoco Embalo – President of Guinea-Bissau & Current President of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – Special Guest of Honor

On behalf of heads of state in West Africa, I would like to thank all partners who have made it possible to eradicate Polio in Africa. However, we still face logistical constraints in transporting vaccines and maintaining their efficiency. Government agencies, non-governmental organizations, philanthropies, and civil society organizations, I believe together we can eradicate Polio in Africa. Children who are our future need good health, he emphasized.

  1. President Macky Sall – President of Senegal & Chairman – African Union (AU)

We need to save our children's lives, and especially our women who are the most vulnerable. Our systems are fragile, therefore, as partners, we need to mobilize from all fronts to deal with this menace. While I’m grateful to all the partners for their support, I also want to call on all heads of state, workers, civil society, and partners to work hard in this fight.

  1. President Paul Kagame – President Rwanda – Video Message

Thank you to all partners for your immense contribution to the fight against Polio in Africa. $ 2.6 billion has been pledged, but we still need $2.2 billion to fight the menace – from vaccine production to administering the vaccines. Health is a right for all persons in Africa.


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