Rotary International to join hands with NHS ministry, health authorities for polio eradication

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Zubair Qureshi

As Pakistan continues to report polio cases despite accelerated poliovirus vaccination campaigns, the Rotary International (RI) has pledged to increase its cooperation for the eradication of the virus.

RI President Jennifer Jones while addressing a press conference said Rotary was constantly trying to improve people’s lifestyle and economic situation through welfare projects.

“Rotary has rendered valuable services in Pakistan; now it is time to start new welfare projects with new commitment from the platform of Rotary in Pakistan.” she said at a press briefing at a local hotel. “Rotary’s PolioPlus investment in Pakistan for polio eradication is $353.8 million and overall its global contribution has been around $2.5 billion. Rotary is committed to keep contributing until the world becomes polio free,” Ms Jones said.

While commending the performance of Rotary in Pakistan during natural disasters, she said be it earthquake situation or flood disaster, Rotary had always played a role in providing immediate relief to the victims and their rehabilitation.

Earlier, Ms Jones visited the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) and met the leadership of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Initiative.

The visit has come at a crucial time as Pakistan’s polio programme strengthens operations and adopts new strategies to contain the virus. “At the start of my presidency, I’m proud to highlight and prioritise Rotary’s top goal of polio eradication by touring Pakistan – one of two remaining endemic countries – and spotlighting the women health workers who play a critical role in protecting children from this vaccine-preventable disease,” she said in a meeting at the NEOC.

Representatives of the government, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Unicef, WHO and CDC were also present. Ms Jones is Rotary’s first woman president since the organisation was founded in 1905.

“Rotary’s spirit of service above self is an inspiration to people all over the world. Some of us sitting here may not have been able to walk today if Rotarians had not envisioned a polio-free world,” NEOC coordinator Shahzad Baig said.

Polio Director for WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region Dr Hamid Jafari said: “Polio programmes around the world have benefited greatly from the contributions of women at the forefront. It is heartening to see President Jones motivating women vaccinators, who make up 65pc of the polio workforce in Pakistan.”

 

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