Rotary International President Klinginsmith will meet with Angola leader, dos Santos, about polio eradication
(4 February 2011) — President Ray Klinginsmith of Rotary International, one of the world's largest humanitarian service organizations, will meet President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola and his minister of Health, Dr. Jose Vandunem, on 9 February to express appreciation for his renewed commitment to ending polio in Angola.
Klinginsmith’s meeting with President dos Santos will build upon prior meetings by Rotary’s partners in the global effort to end polio, to address the specific challenges to eradicating polio in Angola.
In January this year, President dos Santos reaffirmed his commitment to polio eradication after meeting with Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF, and Tachi Yamada, President of Global Health for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Rotary’s visit will follow-up on these declarations of support and plans to implement a new strategy to eradicate polio in Angola.
Although Angola previously stopped the spread of the wild poliovirus, the country reported 32 polio cases in 2010. No cases have been reported in 2011.
Polio immunization activities will take place on 25-27 February, in Luanda and Benguela, as well as Bengo and Kwanza Norte. The next full scale National Immunization Days are planned for 11 March and 8 April – when every child under the age of five will be immunized against the crippling and potentially fatal disease.
“Rotary’s top priority is polio eradication,” said Klinginsmith. “We have provided more than US$1 billion in funding, and countless volunteer hours to do everything it takes to stop this terrible disease.”
With its community-based network worldwide, Rotary is the volunteer arm and initial private sector contributor to a global partnership dedicated to eradicating polio. Since its launch in 1988, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative - spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF - has reduced the incidence of polio by more than 99 percent. At the time, more than 125 countries were polio-endemic, and more than 350,000 children were paralyzed by the disease each year.
Great progress has been made, as fewer than 1,000 cases were reported in 2010. More than two billion children have been immunized in 122 countries, preventing five million cases of paralysis and 250,000 pediatric deaths.
Rotary is currently working to raise an additional US$200 million toward a US$355 million challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These efforts are providing much needed polio vaccine, operational support, medical personnel, laboratory equipment and educational materials for health workers and parents. In addition, Rotary has played a major role in decisions by donor governments to contribute over $8 billion to the effort.
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Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. There are 1.2 million Rotary members in 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary clubs have been serving communities worldwide for more than a century.