By Joe Clark, past governor of District 7230 (Bermuda, part of New York, USA)
Yesterday, two Rotarians who are polio survivors, a past district governor who had just returned from a Subnational Immunization Day in Pakistan, and I attended the United Nations General Assembly side event where world leaders, Rotarians, and global polio eradication partners met to voice their commitment to ending polio.
I have been a Rotarian for over 34 years, but this was one of those “wow” moments. We have all worked hard on projects and events to raise money for PolioPlus. But this event motivated us all to work even harder to reach our goal. We left the event ready to get started on new projects and efforts to support polio eradication.
It was inspirational to hear world leaders and other NGO’s pledge their support to the program, and recognize the work Rotary has done.
Every Rotarian has reason to be proud, but we must not stop now. We need to complete the job and end polio. We are at the hardest part of our mission. We are trying to reach the hardest to reach children. We are going into remote areas and conflict torn areas. We must increase our efforts to complete our task.
We have great support in this endeavor. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has traveled to India and seen the success there and has made global polio eradication a top priority. The presidents of Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have all pledged financial support, and recognize what must be corrected to reach every child and eradicate polio in their countries.
The governments of the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Canada, Finland, and the United States have all committed their support. New organizations are joining. The Islamic Development Bank has crafted a memorandum of understanding with the Gates Foundation and Pakistan and Afghanistan to provide more than US$227 million to help in their efforts.
Bill Gates has committed over $1 billion to the cause and believes the money is one of the smartest investments we can make. The infrastructure we are creating to eradicate polio will benefit the world in fighting other diseases. And new technology is constantly being employed. Mapping allows us to find locations where children have not been immunized, we can track via the use of GPS where the vaccine has been given, and we are bringing the costs of the vaccine down.
The UN event energized everyone who was there. Polio eradication is possible. We are committed. We will succeed.
- Read more about the side event “Our Commitment to the Next Generation: The Legacy of a Polio-free World”
- Sign a petition encouraging governments of the world to fund the final push to get rid of this crippling disease.
- Learn how Rotary is working to eradicate polio
- Contribute to End Polio Now