Read about positive developments in the fight against polio:
- Ethiopia recognizes African Vaccination Week (AVW) – Ethiopia has remained polio-free for the last several years, but remains at high risk for re-infection due to its proximity to countries in Africa with re-established transmission. In their effort to remain polio free, officials are engaging in a range of vaccination and public awareness campaigns. During the recent African Vaccination Week, ceremonies were organized to highlight the importance of community health, and the theme of the event was “Put mothers and children first; vaccinate and stop polio now.” A walk was held to raise awareness and funds for the effort.
- Ethiopian Airlines flies high to help End Polio Now – Ethiopian Airlines has offered its support for polio eradication by agreeing to provide two free airline tickets for volunteers traveling to participate in Ethiopian NIDs activities.
- Rotary helps launch Pulse Polio program in West Bengal – On 25 June the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, launched a week long polio immunization campaign. She kicked off activities by immunizing several children with polio drops, and encouraged all parents to follow her example and get their children vaccinated. West Bengal is the only state where a polio case has been reported so far in 2011, and the event was seen as an important way to generate public support for the eradication effort. The program was organized by Rotary, and the activities received wide media coverage.
- Rotarians plan South Asia Summit – Rotarians, under the leadership of Rotary International President Kalyan Banerjee, are planning to organize a conference in September including India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. The summit is scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka and will renew focus on polio eradication efforts in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. India’s historic progress in the fight against polio will serve as a jumping off point for discussions about other important health concerns for people in the region. The conference will also address Rotary’s interest in promoting education and peace through scholarship opportunities. Rotarians also hope the conference will provide a forum for discussing ways to extend Rotary’s reach into new countries like Vietnam, China and Myanmar.
- New advocacy team sees role for Rotary in monitoring activities – The high level advocacy team that was inaugurated in June of this year recognized that one of the primary challenges to ending polio transmission in Nigeria is the quality of teams in the field. It was noted that Rotary can play an important role in helping to supervise and monitor activities among volunteers. Rotary clubs also serve as an important source for additional volunteers during National Immunization Days. The National PolioPlus Committee Chair for Nigeria, Busuyi Onabolu, has encouraged his fellow Rotarians to increase their visibility and presence during this crucial stage of the polio eradication effort.
- Vaccine carriers go hi-tech – WHO has installed GPS tracking devices on some vaccine carriers being utilized for polio eradication activities in Pakistan. The device is made by US company called “I Got You” and costs $20. The movement of the vaccinator can be tracked via Google Earth and can determine which houses were visited. The devices are being tested on just a portion of vaccine carriers, but it is hoped that more funding will be provided to increase availability of the tracking devices for monitoring purposes.
- Polio jingle goes mobile – The National PolioPlus Committee Chair Aziz Memon helped to organize the production of an inspiring video about polio eradication called “Do Boond” which in English means two drops. The video includes vocals by a popular singer Salar Khoso and tells the emotional story of a young girl who has contracted the polio virus. Recently, the video was added to a mobile float on display at DCO Kambar Shahdadkot Secretariat, and the video was played for officials in advance of July 2011 National Immunization Days (NIDs) activities. Those who viewed the video had a strong response to the poignant message and pledged their commitment to help end polio in Pakistan. It is hoped that the video can be used for more social mobilization activities in the future. To view the video, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lq_NPcCFekE.
- Aseefa Bhutto launches anti-polio drive in Pakistan – In honor of her mother’s, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, commitment to vaccinating children against polio, Aseefa Bhutto, ambassador for polio eradication, launched an anti-polio campaign on 20 June. The daughter of the former prime minister was the first child to be officially immunized against polio when the campaign was launched in 1994. President Asif Ali was present at the ceremony to support his daughter’s efforts to make Pakistan polio free and fulfill her mother’s mission. The Benazir Income Support Program has joined in the polio eradication campaign to help increase the scope of the program.
- NPPC in Pakistan organizes public awareness seminars – NPPC Chair Aziz Memon helped to organize seminars for community leaders, students and the public at large to help raise awareness about polio in the high risk areas of the country. So far seminars have been held at Frontier Medical College in Abbottabad, and at several schools and the district council hall in the Chitral area.
- International Monitoring Board (IMB) meets in London – At their July meeting in London, the board reviewed progress being made by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and made several recommendations for addressing challenges over the next six months. In their report they asserted that polio eradication is “entirely feasible” but that heightened attention is needed at all levels and the $590 million funding gap for activities through 2012 remains the single greatest threat to success.
- UNICEF Executive Director Tony Lake highlights commitment to polio – At the Annual Session of the UNICEF Executive Board, Executive Director Tony Lake outlined the organization’s agenda for the coming year. In his remarks, he reaffirmed UNICEF’s commitment to reaching the most marginalized children in the world, and he included as a primary example the organization’s commitment to polio eradication. He said “as a lead agency on helping governments build and maintain the vaccination supply chains, UNICEF has a critical role to play.” Mr. Lake has made 3 visits to polio-affected countries in the last year, including DRC, Angola and Pakistan, and indicated these trips had strengthened his resolve to help eradicate polio once and for all.
- Final Reports/Audit Reports due for 2010-11 PolioPlus Partners – As the 2010-11 program year has now come to a close, we want to remind National PolioPlus Committee Chairs that final and audit reports are due for all PolioPlus Partners grants approved last year. If you have not already done so, please submit your reports to Amy Young, Senior Coordinator, PolioPlus Partners, and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or need assistance with the report process.
Media Relations Corner
- PR grants can help your districts get the word out – PR Grants are a great way to enhance public awareness of Rotary, particularly the fight to end polio. Districts can apply for funding to place “This Close” Public Service Announcements and to fund 23 February illumination events. The early bird deadline is July 15th and the regular deadline is August 15th. Additional information is here: http://www.rotary.org/en/Members/RunningAClub/InformingTheCommunity/Pages/PRGrants.aspx
- Start planning now for World Polio Day – World Polio Day is 24 October, and it is a great opportunity to highlight Rotary’s commitment to polio eradication. Let us know what you are planning so that we can share your stories with other Rotary clubs and districts.
- New ‘This Close’ campaign participants – we have three new participants in the ‘This Close’ public awareness campaign: Indian singer Tanvi Shah, American media mogul Ted Turner and popular Indian actor Anil Kapoor.
Challenge Update – Rotary’s $200 Million Challenge Committee recently announced that Rotarians have raised over US$182 million toward the goal!
Someone You Should Know…..
Rotary Staff Profile – Most months we profile a different staff member to help you get acquainted with us and to give you some more insight into the work we do. This month we wanted to briefly introduce John Hewko, new General Secretary for Rotary International.
Mr. Hewko assumed his new position on 1 July. In his speech at the 2011 Rotary Convention in New Orleans, he affirmed his strong commitment to Rotary’s top organizational priority, polio eradication, as well as other important Rotary areas of focus, stating,
“The future for Rotary is bright indeed. We will rid the world of the terrible scourge of polio — we will rid the world of this terrible disease — and then we will be bold and aggressive and identify and conquer the next big global challenge. We will redouble our public relations efforts to enhance our brand and image so that the world better appreciates and understands the great works of Rotary and the value of connecting through fellowship. During this second Rotary century, we will successfully use the power and passion of Rotarians to bring water, sanitation, and basic education to millions, to reduce child mortality, to prevent disease around the world, and to promote peace and sustainable economic development.”