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Showing posts with label Pakistan Polio Plus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pakistan Polio Plus. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rotary to highlight global efforts on World Polio Day 2013

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Rotary International will highlight progress in the global effort to end polio on the occasion of the annual World Polio Day to be observed on October 24.

“World Polio Day 2013 provides a golden opportunity for Rotary and its partners to build public support for the historic final push now underway to wipe out this disabling viral disease once and for all,” Rotary International’s Pakistan PolioPlus Chair, Aziz Memon, remarked.

“In Chicago, where the humanitarian service organization was founded in 1905, Rotary and Northwestern University’s Center for Global Health will convene an international panel of experts to discuss the progress of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which Rotary co-launched in 1988. The event, World Polio Day: Making History, will be streamed live to a global online audience at endpolionow.org from Northwestern University’s John Hughes Auditorium, 303 E. Superior St., Chicago, beginning at 5:30 pm. CST on October 24,” he disclosed.

The confirmed panelists included Dr Bruce Aylward, the world’s leading expert on polio eradication and assistant director-general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration at the World Health Organization; Dr. Robert Murphy, director of Northwestern University’s Center for Global Health; and U.S. Paralympian Dennis Ogbe, a polio survivor and ambassador for the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life program. An executive with Brown-Forman Co, Ogbe is originally from Nigeria, one of only three countries where the wild poliovirus has never been stopped.

Also invited is Emmy award-winning actress Archie Panjabi, one of Rotary’s End Polio Now celebrity ambassadors. In 2012, Panjabi helped Rotary volunteers immunize children in India, where she spent part of her childhood. Once considered the nation facing the most serious challenges to eradication, India was removed from the polio-endemic list in January 2012. If Panjabi is unable to attend in person, the Chicago program will include exclusive video of her work in India.

“This year, World Polio Day fundraisers will have greater impact due to the new fundraising campaign, End Polio Now: Make History Today, recently launched by Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation will match two for one every new dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication up to US$35 million per year through 2018,” Aziz Memon revealed.

“World Polio Day provides an important and timely opportunity for us to let the world know that every dollar contributed to Rotary for polio eradication will work three times as hard,” Dr Robert S. Scott, MD, Chair of Rotary’s PolioPlus programme, observed in his message.

“Rotary invites everyone, private citizens, businesses, non-profits, to join us in this historic effort. Only one other human disease (smallpox) has ever been beaten. Now is our best chance ever to make polio the second,” he stressed.

Rotary clubs in every region of the world have planned an array of activities on or leading up to World Polio Day.

Rotary clubs in India planned a nationwide series of outdoor illuminations carrying Rotary’s “End Polio Now” message on World Polio Day. In January, India will celebrate three years of no new polio cases, a huge milestone for a country once considered to harbor the most serious challenges to eradication.

Scores of Rotary clubs worldwide working with local schools to organize Purple Clothes Days encouraged each student to wear a purple item of clothing and make a small donation to Rotary’s polio eradication program.

The concept began with Rotary clubs in England, inspired by the purple dye that health workers in polio-affected countries place on children’s pinky fingers to show they have received the oral polio vaccine. Similarly, many Rotary clubs in England, Kenya and elsewhere are selling fabric “purple crocus” lapel pins in support of polio eradication.

In Kenya, Rotary clubs will work with partnering agencies and the national government to use World Polio Day to launch the next round of national polio immunization activities in early November, a campaign deemed critical due to the recent outbreak of imported cases throughout the Horn of Africa.

Rotary clubs in Lagos, Nigeria, will be partnering with the Cycology Riding Club to do a six-hour relay bicycle ride to promote World Polio Day and the national immunization rounds set for early November. The event is reportedly Nigeria’s first-ever bike-a-thon.

In partnership with UNICEF, Rotary clubs in Pakistan, another polio-endemic country, on World Polio Day will begin distributing 5,000 copies of a 16-page “speaking book” that health workers and parents can use to teach young children the importance of polio vaccinations and basic hygiene. The audio version of the text is in the regional languages of Urdu and Pashto.

In Spain and Portugal, Rotary clubs are generating public support for polio eradication via the crowd-speaking platform, Thunderclap, in a campaign that concludes on World Polio Day.

Historically, Rotary had helped launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with the WHO, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since then, Rotary club members worldwide have contributed more than $1.2 billion and countless volunteer hours to the polio eradication effort.

Overall, the annual number of new polio cases has plummeted by more than 99 percent since the 1980s, when polio infected about 350,000 children a year. Only 223 new cases were recorded for all of 2012. More than two billion children have been immunized in 122 countries, preventing five million cases of paralysis and 250,000 deaths. Polio today remains endemic in only three countries, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, although “imported” cases in previously polio-free areas, such as the Horn of Africa, will continue to occur until the virus is finally stopped in the endemic countries.

Rotary is a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary’s 1.2 million members hail from more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. 


Monday, June 3, 2013

Robert Scott, Aziz Memon urge for reinstatement of Prime Minister’s Polio Monitoring and Coordination Cell

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Dr Robert S Scott Chair, International Polio Plus, Rotary International and Aziz Memon, Chair, Pakistan Polio Plus, Rotary International, have urged the government to take steps to re-establish the essential functions that were previously undertaken by the Prime Minister’s Polio Monitoring and Coordination Cell in the interest of the children of the country.

In a letter addressed to the Caretaker Prime Minister, Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, with a copy sent to the Prime Minister-in waiting, Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, the Rotary officials have regretted the recent closure of the Prime Minister’s Polio Monitoring Cell, merged with the old system, which is incapable of delivering routine immunization or running the Polio Eradication Initiative, due to serious administrative issues.

The senior Rotary officials have drawn the attention of the concerned authorities towards the particular deficiencies of the EPI were highlighted by the Federal Ombudsman in his recent ‘Report on Measles Outbreak in Pakistan.’

‘The decision to close the Monitoring Cell was done in haste, without giving any thought to future action or implementation. The programme will stall key initiatives taken by the polio cell to completely stop transmission of polio from Pakistan by the end of 2013,” they said in a jointly signed letter sent to the Office of the Prime Ministers.

“Eradication of Polio is a global priority.  Pakistan, being one of the only three polio endemic countries of the world, is under intense pressure from the international community to take drastic steps for eradication of this disease and actively contribute in the Global Eradication of Polio,” Scott and Memon stated.

“The Government of Pakistan in collaboration with partner agencies approved the National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) for Polio Eradication with responsibilities of implementation to the District Administration,” they added.

“To achieve this objective, the Government of Pakistan had in 2011, established a Cell known as the Prime Minister's Polio Monitoring & Coordination Cell, to monitor and coordinate efforts being made at the National and International level on Polio Eradication. In addition the PM monitoring cell also assisted the National Task Force on Polio Eradication headed by the Prime Minister,” the Rotary officials recalled.

“The Cell comprised of Public Health Specialists and Experts in Polio Eradication. It has achieved major success, and witnessed tremendous progress in this area, which has been recognised and appreciated by the International Health Forums like the World Health Assembly and the Independent Monitoring Board based in London. Due to untiring efforts, polio cases have dropped from 198 in 2011 to 58 cases in 2012 and 9 cases in 2013,” they concluded.