SOURCE: Rotary International
Rotary recognizes Australian Prime Minister as leader in the global effort to eradicate polio
Speaking earlier this year at Rotary's annual international convention held in Sydney, Prime Minister Abbott reaffirmed his government's commitment of AUD $100 million to end polio – the humanitarian service organization's top philanthropic goal.
The funds will support polio eradication and routine immunisation activities to fight the re-emergence of polio. The government of Australia has contributed AUD$30 million toward the global eradication of polio since 2011.
"A disease that once paralyzed 1,000 children each day is now almost history," said K.R. Ravindran, President-elect of Rotary International. "Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the government of Australia have helped the world make tremendous progress in the effort to eradicate polio, yet we cannot stop until every child is safe from the devastating effects of this disease. The support of Prime Minister Abbott and the government of Australia will prove vital as we seek to eliminate polio from the world by 2018."
Polio today remains endemic to only three countries, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. This year, Nigeria has made significant progress having reduced its case count by more than 90 percent compared to this same time last year. However, Pakistan has seen an alarming rise in polio cases, as conflict threatens both the safety of health workers and children's access to the vaccine.
Australia's contribution will support the collective efforts of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a worldwide effort led by Rotary, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Rotary established the Polio Eradication Champion Award in 1995 to honor heads of state, health agency leaders and others who have made significant contributions to the global eradication of polio. Past recipients include Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada; Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; David Cameron, Prime Minister of Great Britain; Enda Kenny, Prime Minister of Ireland; Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria; and Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. Prime Minister Abbott is the second Australian leader to receive this recognition. Prime Minister John Howard was honoured by Rotary in 2005.
Rotary made polio eradication its top philanthropic goal in 1985. As the volunteer arm of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary has contributed more than US$1.3 billion to ending polio. This includes more than AUD$24.7 (US$21) million contributed by the more than 30,000 members of 1,114 Rotary clubs in Australia.
Since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative launched in 1988, more than 2.5 billion children worldwide have received the oral polio vaccine, causing the incidence of the disease to plummet by more than 99 percent, from about 350,000 new cases a year to fewer than 420 for all of 2013.