Rotary honors President Laurent Gbagbo for supporting a polio-free world
Côte d’Ivoire polio-free since 2005 despite international outbreak and civil war
(Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire – 24 July 2007) — In recognition of his personal contributions and commitment to eradicating polio worldwide, Rotary International today presented President Laurent Gbagbo with its Polio Eradication Champion Award.
Under President Gbagbo’s leadership, the West African country of Côte d’Ivoire has remained polio-free since 2005, after successfully halting the spread of the poliovirus since the international outbreak in 2003 and 2004. Despite civil war, President Gbagbo enabled mass polio immunization campaigns to move forward, and publicly launched numerous rounds, giving the occasions the highest level political support. In addition, President Gbagbo has made a personal contribution of US$36,000.
The award, presented by past Rotary International president Luis Giay, was established in 1995 to recognize governments and world leaders who have made outstanding contributions toward the goal of eradicating polio. "On behalf of Rotary’s 1.2 million members worldwide, I am honored to present this award to President Laurent Gbagbo,” said Giay. “His personal commitment to polio eradication is an inspiration to those who are fighting the last vestiges of this disease.”
A highly infectious disease that can cause paralysis and sometimes death, polio still strikes children in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. As there is no cure, the best protection is prevention. For as little as US .60 cents worth of vaccine, a child can be protected against this crippling disease for life. To date, the number of polio cases has been reduced from 350,000 children annually in the mid 1980s to approximately 2,000 cases all last year. Only four countries: Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, are still polio-endemic — an all-time low.
Other leaders who have been honored with Rotary’s Polio Eradication Champion Award include; Prime Minister of Malaysia Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Australia John Howard, Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan, Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh, former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, President Mamadou Tandja of Niger, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, and First Lady of Egypt Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak.
Rotary’s commitment to end polio represents the largest private-sector support of a global health initiative ever. In 1985, Rotary members worldwide vowed to immunize all the world’s children against polio. Since then, Rotary has contributed US$616 million to polio eradication. Besides raising and contributing funds, over one million men and women of Rotary have volunteered their time and personal resources to help immunize more than 2 billion children in 122 countries during national immunization campaigns.
Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide to provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. It is comprised of 1.2 million members working in over 32,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary members initiate community projects that address many of today’s most critical issues such as violence, AIDS, hunger, the environment and health care.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
For further information visit, www.rotary.org or www.polioeradication.org.
Founded in Chicago in 1905, Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. Rotary’s global membership is approximately 1.2 million men and women who belong to more than 32,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.