Citation to William Sergeant, Chairman of Rotary International's PolioPlus Committee
Remarks of Dr David Heymann, Representative of the Director-General for Polio Eradication
Ladies and gentlemen,
One hundred years ago, the founder of Rotary International established a simple yet profound creed to guide an organization that today consists of over 1 million Rotarians worldwide - that creed is 'Service above self'.
Though not a Rotarian, Dr JW Lee epitomized that spirit of Rotary within our Organization. In Rotary International itself, his good friend Mr Bill Sargeant, is a vibrant example of that same spirit.
Rotary International has been one of the major partners in polio eradication, working at the global, national and local level. At the international level, Rotarians have provided over one half a billion US dollars for polio eradication activities. At the national level it has helped to mobilize government funding and plays a major role in advocacy.
Working with many of you, Rotarians have continued to advocate for polio eradication with heads of state, and in industrialized countries have helped persuade governments to provide bilateral and multilateral funding to the polio eradication initiative.
And at the local level, Rotarians participate as volunteers in vaccination campaigns, and fill gaps where needed -whether in provision of vehicles or fuel, or to social mobilization to encourage participation in vaccination campaigns.
Bill has lived up to his name of Sergeant in the battle against polio. Bill Sergeant remains a towering force and a legend in global polio eradication. His vision and leadership have been unmatched.
More dreaded than any parade ground sergeant, he has relentlessly drilled his 1.2 million strong Rotarian troops and achieved tremendous results as the chairman of Rotary International's Polio Plus Committee.
Bill has also ensured that Rotary collaborates very effectively with WHO, US CDC and UNICEF - the four spearheading polio partners - towards our common goal. With Bill's guidance, this partnership has set the gold standard for private - public partnerships to improve global public health.
On behalf of all of us here Bill, and in particular on behalf of Dr Lee who looked forward to giving you this award in person, I would like to thank you for travelling all the way from Tennessee to be with us today. We are honoured by your presence.
When Dr Lee met with the polio team last Thursday in preparation for this event, he asked what more he could do to ensure that polio is eradicated from the world for once and for all. He really cared about polio eradication.
This award recognizes the remarkable contribution that you have made personally as a volunteer over the past twenty years in bringing that goal closer. Your leadership in this great effort has brought us closer to the reality of a polio-free world, and improved the lives and futures of millions of children.
Bill, when you began your job there were approximately 1000 children every single day being paralysed by polio. Today there are approximately 1000 children paralysed in a year. The few countries that still harbour the poliovirus continue their commitment to ending polio within the near future.
Bill, you truly represent Rotary International's motto of "Service Above Self".
Congratulations Bill. You are a friend to the world.
Remarks of William Sergeant, following receipt of the award
I am honored beyond adequate words in being recognized for a labor of love by this Assembly.
That the nomination has been made by Dr. J.W. LEE, both the Director General and, I consider a friend, is especially important to me. And no one has been such a friend of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Until I became associated with the World Health Organization on the Polio Eradication Initiative, I did not know of the extraordinary professional and personal devotion of those who serve the WHO. Now Dr Bruce Aylward and Dr David Heymann and their colleagues have my deepest respect and friendship.
I wish I could continue my work until eradication is achieved but I have sadly concluded that Rotary International and the noble goal of WHO, UNICEF, CDC and Rotary deserves the leadership of someone less than 86 years of age.
But I will do whatever I can, in activity and spirit, until that great day arrives.
I thank you, the members of the World Health Assembly, for your courage and devotion to the goal of polio eradication and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your gracious recognition today.