Global Polio Eradication partners applaud Rotary’s new
US$ 88 557 000 pledge to world’s largest public health initiative
Partners urge international community to match Rotary’s commitment to polio eradication
Geneva - The Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners today applauded Rotary International for its US$ 88 557 000 pledge to polio eradication. Rotary today announced the results of its year-long campaign to raise funds for a polio-free world, at its international convention in Brisbane, Australia. The news comes less than 30 days after the announcement that a critical funding gap threatens the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Recognizing that insufficient funding is now the single biggest threat to polio eradication, Rotary members everywhere have held fundraising events or personally donated to the cause. In Tacoma Narrows, Washington, DC, for example, 264 drummers converged to “Beat the Drums to Beat Polio” raising more than US$ 22 000. Throughout the world, 1.2 million members of Rotary have held auctions and charity raffles, cycled thousands of kilometres, and organized many other activities to raise funds for eradicating polio. Rotary’s latest fundraising drive is in addition to over US$ 500 million the service organization has already contributed to the cause.
On behalf of the Global Polio Eradication partnership of WHO, UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr Shigeru Omi, Director at WHO’s Regional Office for the Western Pacific, today paid special tribute to Rotary International. Dr Omi, who led the polio eradication drive in the WHO’s Western Pacific Region, praised Rotary and its members worldwide for their latest and much needed drive to immunize every child against polio.
Rotary’s partners also warned that the funding gap for 2003-2005 polio activities continues to stand in the way of a polio-free world, and urged the global community to follow Rotary’s lead and commit the necessary resources to getting the job done.
“Reaching every last child, in every corner of the world takes dollars, commitment and volunteers,” Dr Omi told an enthusiastic crowd of 16 000 Rotary members in Brisbane. “Rotary members have been on the front lines in their communities, creatively raising money, raising awareness of polio eradication, and reminding the world what Rotary is about – service above self”.
From its headquarters in New York, UNICEF’s Executive Director, Ms Carol Bellamy, added her congratulations: “Rotarians really are the heart and soul of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative,” she said. “Eighteen years ago they took their vision of a polio-free world for children to the international community. Since then they have contributed not just money, but passion, creativity and genuine hard work on the ground.”
CDC also applauded Rotary’s ceaseless dedication to the eradication effort. “We are closing in on global polio eradication. We thank Rotary for its vision in creating the PolioPlus programme in 1985 to vaccinate all the world’s children against polio by 2005,” said Dr Stephen Cochi, Director, Global Immunization Division, CDC. “Thanks to contributions from Rotary as well as others, the opportunity to wipe out polio is within reach.”
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, spearheaded by Rotary and its international partners, has slashed the incidence of polio by more than 99%. In 1988, more than 350 000 children across the globe were paralysed by polio. In 2002, the world had only 1919 reported cases in seven countries.
The Chairman of the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, Mr Glen Kinross, said: “The progress and commitment to date reaffirms the dedication of ordinary citizens, throughout the world to this important cause. Rotary International and its members across the world have given so much to this Initiative,” he said. “It is critical that the international community works towards protecting our collective investment in fighting this disease.”
Further information about the Initiative:
- The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by WHO, Rotary International, CDC and UNICEF. Its success is anchored in on the solid public-private sector partnership which has been built with Rotary International.
- There are now 209 countries, territories and areas free of polio. The seven remaining polio endemic countries are (from highest to lowest burden of disease): India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan, Niger, and Somalia. It is the lowest number of polio endemic countries in history.
- Rotary has been a key advocacy partner, raising the importance of polio eradication with government heads throughout the world. The largest private sector partner to the Initiative, this latest fundraising effort pushes Rotary’s total commitment to polio eradication to well over US$ 500 million.
For further information, please contact : Melissa Corkum, WHO/Geneva, tel. +41 79 500 6554, email@example.com; Vivian Fiore, Rotary International/Chicago, tel. +61 419649118, firstname.lastname@example.org; Steve Stewart, CDC/Atlanta, tel. +1 (404) 639 8327, email@example.com ; Claire Hajaj, UNICEF/New York, +1 (212) 326 7566, firstname.lastname@example.org