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Showing posts with label Rotary Clubs in Pakistan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rotary Clubs in Pakistan. 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. 


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Aziz Memon highlights cross-border lessons in saving lives


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi

(Pakistan News and Features Services)

Aziz Memon, Chairman of Rotary International’s PolioPlus Committee, has expressed the eagerness to learn from India’s success in eradicating polio from Pakistan, one of three nations still registering indigenous transmission of wild poliovirus.

“India have not recorded a single case of polio since January 13, 2011, a fact acknowledged by the World Health Organization (WHO). Their success in the eradication of polio, serves as a beacon of hope for the nations like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria who are still struggling to control polio,” Aziz Memon, having served as the Governor of Rotary International’s District 3270 covering Afghanistan and Pakistan, remarked in an interview with the PNFS in Karachi on September 25.

“Pakistan could imbibe invaluable lessons from its neighbour about eradicating polio. This is vitally important because Pakistan had experienced the world’s largest nationwide outbreak of polio in 2011 with 198 reported cases,” he added.

“As of June 8, 2012, Pakistan had reported 21 cases of wild poliovirus, compared to 52 cases during the same period in 2011. Insurgency and security-related dangers don’t allow our national polio programme to consistently reach children in certain areas of FATA. Also the sub-optimal management of the programme at the sub-district level in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan has seen inconsistent polio campaigns, with many children being missed during immunisation drives,” the Rotary official regretted.

‘In order to overcome the challenges, Rotary International has undertaken vigorous efforts in promoting the Polio Eradication Campaign in Pakistan, just as it did in India. Along with its partners, UNICEF and WHO, Rotary’s PolioPlus Committee in Pakistan has been overseeing eradication efforts. Pakistan has emulated India by roping in celebrity ambassadors to advance the cause of polio eradication and the most popular cricketer of the country, Shahid Afridi, is a part of the Polio Eradication Campaign,” Aziz Memon noted.

“We have also adopted best-practice modules from India like the identification of high-risk blocks, roping in religious leaders from different sects in door-to-door campaigns, conducting health camps to augment abysmal healthcare services, and producing social mobilisation materials for Information, Education and Communication on Polio. During NIDs (National Immunisation Days) and SNIDs (Sub-National Immunisation Days), Rotary Clubs in Pakistan work alongside government health workers during immunisation drives and also collaborate with multinational companies to boost awareness levels,” he added.

“The Rotary Clubs in Pakistan have been more proactive and persist with polio camps, walks and workshops that drive awareness and eradication efforts. Pakistan PolioPlus Committee has installed billboards in high-risk districts for national campaigns, with some billboards being permanent. As per the government’s request, an additional 45,000 vaccine carriers have been made to ensure quality of activities don’t suffer,” he disclosed.

“The Pakistani authorities are firmly committed to implementing eradication efforts to ensure polio spikes within its borders are curbed. To facilitate the success of its anti-polio initiatives, we sought India’s support in this drive. Apart from the exchange of delegations between the two nations, Pakistan’s serious intent is also evident from the fact that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari is personally involved in the campaign against polio,” Aziz Memon explained. 

“Concerted and sustained efforts on the part of all stakeholders, public and private entities, partnerships and the public, for polio to be finally eradicated from Pakistan are essential because a failure to do so will leave open the perennial threat of wild poliovirus making a surreptitious comeback in other geographies too; that is something Pakistan, and the world, can ill afford at this crucial juncture,” he warned.