Polio, an infectious disease that can result in lifelong paralysis or even death, is on the threshold of being the second human disease ever eradicated. There is no cure for polio, but it can be prevented through vaccination. Until polio is eradicated, children everywhere are at risk.

Combating Polio

The Shefa Fund is part of the Gates Foundation’s Polio Eradication Fund, which supports the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The Shefa Fund’s support has funded polio vaccination programs in Muslim-majority countries. During these vaccination campaigns, volunteer health workers often go from house-to-house to meet with parents and ensure children receive the vaccinations necessary to protect them from polio for life.

What Our Granting Achieved


Somali nomadic elders educated on polio immunization


vaccine vials distributed for two immunization campaigns in Yemen


vaccines successfully reached Afghanistan through support of freight costs


children vaccinated against polio in high-risk areas of Jordan


children vaccinated in Yemen


solar-powered refrigerators purchased to store vaccines in Syria

Shefa Fund’s $1.5 million grant allowed the WHO—a core partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative—to provide strategic, operational, and administrative support for polio vaccination efforts in Yemen and Egypt. An additional $500,000 grant provided critical support in Somalia.

Shefa Fund’s $1.8 million grant to UNICEF filled a critical gap in funding, allowing polio vaccination campaigns to continue in the Middle East following the 2013 polio outbreak in areas of Syria and Iraq. Additional funding supported vaccination efforts in Afghanistan.

Our Grantees Working to Combat Polio

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a part of the United Nations. The agency focuses on international public health, with the aim of building a better, healthier future for people all over the world.

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The United Nations Children’s Fund

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), often working with the WHO, oversees the procurement and distribution of polio vaccines for routine and supplementary immunization activities under the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

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1 Banner, 3 & 4 Granting | Photo Credit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

2 Combating Polio | Photo Credit Kate Holt / Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation