Statement from Dr. Robert Scott, Chair, Rotary International PolioPlus Committee
EVANSTON, Ill., May 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Rotary International, as a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, strongly supports the World Health Assembly considering a resolution that would declare polio eradication a global emergency for public health. Rotarians know that while recent progress against this disease gives the world the best opportunity ever to succeed, the consequences of failure are unimaginable – a true global health emergency.
Anticipating this shift to emergency footing, Rotary leaders since December 2011 have been meeting with the heads of state of polio-affected countries to ensure polio eradication remains a top priority in every nation and that funding commitments to the program are met. We will continue these high-level meetings over the next six months, while mobilizing our grassroots network of 1.2 million volunteers worldwide to do everything possible to end polio.
Recent Rotary actions supporting polio eradication as a global health emergency:
- In April, Past Rotary President Wilfrid Wilkinson traveled to Nigeria, one of three remaining polio-endemic countries, to present President Goodluck Jonathan with Rotary’s Polio Eradication Champion Award. Shortly after the meeting, Nigeria released polio funds pledged in October 2011. Rotary also sits on Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force on the Eradication of Polio.
- Also in April, Rotary President Kalyan Banerjee met with Afghan President Karzai, offering assistance in applying lessons learned from the success against polio in India. For example, Rotary’s successful advocacy within Muslim communities helped ease cultural misconceptions about the vaccination program, allowing more children to be immunized. Afghanistan is one of three remaining polio-endemic countries.
- In March, Rotary’s International PolioPlus Chair Robert Scott had a similar meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, one of three remaining polio-endemic countries. Aziz Memon, Rotary’s National PolioPlus chair for Pakistan, also is active at all levels, recently securing the commitment of Pakistan National Cricket Captain Afridi as a celebrity advocate for polio eradication.
- Also in March, The Rotary Foundation Trustees reaffirmed that polio eradication is the “urgent priority” of the Foundation, and that continued support for PolioPlus is essential.
- In February, Rotary and the Indian Health Ministry jointly hosted a Polio Summit, during which India was declared polio-free and removed from the list of polio endemic countries.
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SOURCE Rotary International