Rotary helps fuel Pakistan’s drive to become polio-free
Robert S. Scott (left), chair of the International PolioPlus Committee, joins Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari (center) and other government officials on 10 October in Islamabad to launch National Immunization Days. Photo courtesy of Usman Masud Khan
R otarians and other members of the family of Rotary joined health workers in carrying out Pakistan’s National Immunization Days (NIDs) 12-14 October, reaching a record 35 million children.
"It is the grassroots volunteer service that led United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to call Rotary the heart and soul of the polio eradication initiative," said International PolioPlus Committee Chair Robert S. Scott at a 10 October ceremony in Islamabad to inaugurate the NIDs. "Rotarians here in Pakistan are proud to be playing an active role in supporting the essential immunization activities that will lead us to victory over polio."
Rotary also helped promote the NIDs on billboards in several cities in a joint effort with Coca-Cola Pakistan.
Rotarians have encouraged the government to give strong support to ending polio. This advocacy effort helped lead to the decision in early 2009 to launch the Prime Minister's Action Plan for Polio Eradication. On behalf of Rotary International in August, Scott recognized President Asif Ali Zardari with the Polio Eradication Champion Award for his outstanding support of a polio-free world. In October, President Zardari became an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Karachi Bay.
On 10 October, the government issued a postage stamp to help promote a polio-free Pakistan. The stamp depicts the late Prime Minister Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto giving polio vaccine to Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, the daughter of Pakistan's president and Bhutto. Now UNICEF's ambassador for polio eradication in Pakistan, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari was the first child immunized in the country when it began its campaign against the disease in 1994. That year, 23,000 Pakistani children were paralyzed or killed by polio. In 2009, 62 cases were reported as of 20 October.
"Rotarians in Pakistan and throughout the world stand with the people of Pakistan," said Scott at the 10 October NID kickoff. "We look forward to the day when we will celebrate our shared victory over polio."
Learn more about Rotary's effort to eradicate polio:
Read more about polio and what you can do to help.
Watch a video about Rotary's progress in meeting the US$200 Million Challenge
- Help End Polio Now by buying tickets to the 2 December benefit concert featuring Itzhak Perlman.