Rotary honors Indian minister of health and family welfare for supporting a polio-free world
(Delhi, INDIA – 18 August 2007) — In recognition of his commitment to eradicating polio worldwide, Rotary International today presented Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, India’s minister of health and family welfare, with its Polio Eradication Champion Award.
The award, presented by Robert Scott, chairman of The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, was established in 1995 to recognize governments and world leaders who have made outstanding contributions toward the goal of eradicating polio – Rotary’s top philanthropic goal.
"On behalf of Rotary’s 1.2 million members worldwide, I am honored to present this award to Dr. Ramadoss,” said Scott. “His support and involvement in this program has been integral to the progress achieved so far, and will remain vital to until polio is eradicated.”
In addition to regular meetings on polio eradication, Dr. Ramadoss organized a meeting with state health ministers of the polio-endemic areas to discuss ways of coordinating and improving efforts to reach every child with the oral polio vaccine. With its recent commitment of US$210 million in domestic resources, the government of India has demonstrated extraordinary political and financial commitment to ending polio.
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 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.
Other leaders who have been honored with Rotary’s Polio Eradication Champion Award include President Laurent Gbagbo of Côte d’Ivoire, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia, Prime Minister John Howard of Australia; Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand; Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain; Alpha Oumar Konare, chair of the African Union Commission; former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan; Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India; former President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria; former President Bill Clinton of the United States; former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan; President Mamadou Tandja of Niger; President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan; Prime Minister Bertie Ahern of Ireland and first lady Suzanne Mubarak of Egypt.
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 $620 million to polio eradication, of which $73.8 million supports these efforts in India.
Besides raising and contributing funds, over 1 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. Whether knocking on doors during house-to-house campaigns or staffing immunization posts, India’s nearly 90,000 Rotary members will be out in force during the campaigns this year.
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 and UNICEF.
For further information visit, www.rotary.org or www.polioeradication.org.