Rotarians play key role in Pakistan’s strategy to end polio
Islamic community leaders and Rotarians in Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan, administer the polio vaccine to children during National Immunization Days (NIDs) in May. Photo courtesy of Mohammad Hanif Khilji
R otarians are in the forefront of the drive to implement Pakistan’s National Emergency Action Plan for Polio Eradication 2011. The government launched the plan in January, in response to a sharp increase in polio cases in the country in 2010.
Turning the tide against the disease in Pakistan is pivotal to the success of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative . Pakistan was the only one of the world’s four polio-endemic countries -- the others are Afghanistan, India, and Nigeria -- to see an increase in cases last year: 144 compared with 89 in 2009.
Rotarians assigned by the Pakistan PolioPlus Committee are mobilizing Rotary clubs to provide support in the country’s four provinces. Rotarians are helping to immunize children against polio and to raise public awareness of the disease.
Club members are working “to cover every nook and corner of the country,” says Aziz Memon, chair of the committee. “We are committed to a polio-free Pakistan.”
Rotarians are also advocating for polio eradication among officials at all levels of government, as well as religious leaders and others.
"Aziz Memon is a participant in meetings with the president, regional governors, and health advisers,” said Bill Gates at the 2011 RI Convention in May. “Rotary’s in the room when decisions are made in Pakistan.” Gates is cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has awarded US$355 million in challenge grants to Rotary for polio eradication efforts.
Learn more about Rotary's effort to eradicate polio:
Read more about polio and what you can do to help.
Watch a video "The Last Hurdle" about Rotary's work to eradicate polio