Paralympic-related event puts the spotlight on polio eradication
Paralympic athletes at the garden party sponsored by Rotary International, in association with UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the British Pakistan Foundation, and the Global Poverty Project. Photo by Jordi Matas
Perseverance and dedication are qualities that both Paralympic athletes and Rotarians use to reach their goals.
To highlight this common bond, British Rotarians used the excitement surrounding the opening day of the 2012 Paralympic Games on 30 August to rally government dignitaries from the United Kingdom and Pakistan to raise funds for Paralympic athletes and Rotary’s PolioPlus program.
“We wanted to celebrate the achievements of these amazing athletes and Rotary’s hard work towards polio eradication,” says Judith A. Diment, PolioPlus national advocacy adviser for the UK and a member of the Rotary Club of Windsor St. George, England. “Both groups have persevered through great odds to be where we’re at today.”
Rotary International, in association with UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the British Pakistan Foundation, and the Global Poverty Project, sponsored the garden party in London attended by more than 100 people, including five Paralympic athletes, three of whom are polio survivors.
The event raised thousands of dollars for PolioPlus and the Pakistani Paralympic Committee and advocated for a polio-free world. Wajid Shamsul Hasan, the High Commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom, praised Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan and spoke about his government’s commitment to step up resources to rid his country of the disease.
Diment said advocacy efforts have become more important than ever, as funding shortages have forced the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to cancel or scale back immunization activities in high-risk countries, leaving more children vulnerable to the disease.
The GPEI launched an emergency action plan earlier this year but is US$1 billion short of what it needs in order to implement the plan through 2013. Rotarians can help, Diment says, by lobbying their governments to commit funding for polio eradication and by spreading the word about the immense benefits of finally eliminating this crippling disease.
“We must continue to reach out and put Rotary’s effort in front of the opinion makers and governments so they act in helping us achieve our goal of polio eradication worldwide,” says Diment.