Karachi—Rotary members worldwide have contributed more than US$1 billion to polio eradication, including $190,000 raised by the members of Pakistan’s 150 Rotary clubs.
As part of its annual tradition, Rotary International’s Pakistan Polio Plus Committee Friday inaugurated Rotary illuminated message – ‘End Polio Now’ – which now glows brightly at the historic Frere Hall in Karachi. The community-based Rotary clubs illuminate landmarks and iconic structures around the world with the humanitarian group’s pledge to eradicate polio, a crippling childhood disease.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Dr. Sagheer Ahmed, Sindh Health Minister as Chief Guest while Nasreen Jalil, Former Naib Nazim Karachi; Aziz Memon, National Chair, Pakistan Polio Plus Committee, Rotary International; Syed S. Haider, President & CEO 21st Century Business & Economic Club and representatives of World Health Organization, UNICEF and U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention were also present at the ceremony.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Sagheer Ahmed highlighted some major initiatives undertaken by the government of Sindh to eradicate polio from the country under specific directives of President Asif Ali Zardari.
The Minister vowed to make all out efforts in association with some of Pakistan’s partners including UNICEF, WHO, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and others to completely eradicate polio from Pakistan.
Highlighting the efforts of Rotary International, Aziz Memon, National Chair, Pakistan Polio Plus Committee, Rotary International said, “We are here today to renew the commitment we have made, not to any governments of this world, but to the children of this world. We hope that we will succeed in our mission to ensure that no child undergoes this disease.”
“We further hope that the media will play its role in raising awareness about polio eradication while the politicians of this country will also act sensibly”, he added.
He further assured that Rotary International in association with its local and foreign partners including World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others will remain committed to polio eradication from Pakistan.
In 2011, Pakistan reported 198 polio cases, followed by Afghanistan 80; Nigeria 57; and India 1. Worldwide fewer than 650 cases have been confirmed for 2011, which is less than half of the 1352 infection reported in 2010.
Rotary International has provided almost $73 million in grants for polio eradication activities in Pakistan. To date, the government of Pakistan has provided nearly $50 million in domestic resources. President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani have made polio eradication a national priority by launching the National Emergency Action Plan in 2011 and an Augmented Action Plan for 2012, aimed at increasing the capacity and effectiveness of the polio immunization program.