India prepares for Polio Summit 2012
A Rotarian immunizes a child in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. The country has not reported a case of polio in more than a year. Photo by Allison Kwesell
In the wake of India achieving one year without a case of polio, the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in partnership with Rotary International, is organizing Polio Summit 2012. It will be held 25-26 February in New Delhi.
The summit is aimed at sustaining the country's momentum toward eradicating polio by increasing awareness of the disease, securing strong support from governments and other partners, and promoting routine immunization. The meeting also will create a platform for government and health officials to develop a strategy for ending the disease in the three other countries where it is endemic -- Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan -- and throughout the world.
More than 1,000 government leaders, health officials, and Rotarians from India and neighboring countries, along with representatives from Rotary International, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are expected to attend the event.
“The Polio Summit will help greatly in continuing advocacy with political, bureaucratic, and religious, as well as corporate and social, leaders and other organizations,” says RI President Kalyan Banerjee.
Before the summit, on 19 February, more than 200 Rotarians from several countries will participate with their Indian counterparts in the country’s National Immunization Day. About half of the visiting Rotarians also plan to attend the Polio Summit.
Afterward, on 27 February, the annual National PolioPlus Orientation and Planning Meeting for RI governors-elect and district PolioPlus chairs will be held in New Delhi, hosted by the India PolioPlus Committee.
“India is tantalizingly close to eradicating polio,” says Past RI President Rajendra K. Saboo, chair of the summit. “Rotary International has committed to be the torchbearer until India and the world become polio-free.”
Ghulam Nabi Azad, India's minister of health and family welfare, credited Rotary with helping his country near the goal of polio eradication when he spoke at RI World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, in September. He cited “not only the mobilization of funds, but the active participation of Rotarians in the field,” and said, “My country has benefited greatly from your support, and I thank all of you.”
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