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Rotary recognizes UK Prime Minister Theresa May with polio champion award

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Rotary honored Theresa May, prime minister of the United Kingdom, with the Polio Eradication Champion Award for her leadership and political support toward ending polio. 

Rotary International President Barry Rassin presented the prestigious award to Alistair Burt, the UK minister of state for international development and minister of state for the Middle East, at a roundtable discussion on polio eradication on 27 November in London, England. 

Rassin told Burt, who accepted the award on May’s behalf, that the UK has repeatedly demonstrated an unwavering commitment toward a polio-free world. 

Alistair Burt, left, the UK minister of state for international development and minister of state for the Middle East, accepts the Polio Eradication Champion Award from RI President Barry Rassin.

“Britain’s leadership in making multiyear commitments in support of global polio eradication has been an example for other countries to follow,” Rassin said. He added that flexible funding from the UK has given the Global Polio Eradication Initiative  more resources to respond quickly to “dynamic needs.”

Under May’s leadership in 2017, the UK pledged about $130 million to the GPEI for 2017-19, bringing the country’s cumulative support for polio eradication to $1.6 billion — second only to the United States. May has also been a strong advocate for other countries in the G-20 and G-7 to maintain their financial and political support for a polio-free world, Rassin said. 

“The UK remains committed to reaching our goal of eradicating polio and ensuring that no child suffers from polio again,” Burt said. “We are very proud of the contribution we have made to setting polio on the road to becoming history. I want to take this opportunity again to thank all those involved in the fight against polio, especially those on the ground working in incredibly difficult circumstances, and Rotary colleagues all around the world who have helped us reach this point.”

Rotary established the Polio Eradication Champion Award in 1996 to recognize heads of state, health agency leaders, and others who have made significant contributions to ending polio. Past recipients include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. 

Rotary's fight to end polio

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