- Title:Polio Plus Events
- District 7570 has been present at two events for recognition of the Rotary contributions to the polio eradication efforts. A reception was held at The White House on April 20th to honor Rotarians and recognize the success towards the eradication...
- District 7570 has been present at two events for recognition of the Rotary contributions to the polio eradication efforts. A reception was held at The White House on April 20th to honor Rotarians and recognize the success towards the eradication of polio. In attendance was PRIVP Eric Adamson. On April 24th, members of Congress and the Senate honored Rotary at a reception in the US Capitol for the End Polio Now efforts. DG Janet Johnson was in attendance.
The master of ceremonies for the program was Dr. John Server, also PDG and once head of the infectious diseases division of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Server is credited as the pioneer of the Polio Plus work of Rotary. In 1978-79 Rotary International President, Clem Renouf of Nambour read about the Australian Navy commissioning two warships at a cost that was the equivalent of eliminating smallpox. He contacted Dr. Server and asked him if polio could be eradicated. Server said it could, so they went to the World Health Organization and PRIP Renouf said “They were polite but said that no NGO would have the persistence to see the distance”. Undeterred, with Dr. Sever’s leadership Rotary members raised $247 million and got to work. 12 million people were vaccinated in Mexico, 27 countries in South America. Faced with such obvious success, the World Health Organization returned with support to Rotary’s Polio Plus and the global polio eradication initiative.
In remarks at the Congressional/Senate reception, Dr. Sever said eradication is complete with the exception of Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan but that with those three nations; there is still a long way to go. He emphasized eradication is critical for sustainability and equity. “We will get over the finish line and we must as a gift to the children,” he continued. Senator Tom Harkin (Iowa) said “You have met the Gates Challenge, but don’t give up. It isn’t done. Eradication of polio would not be where we are today without Rotary.” Senator Richard Lugar (Indiana) encouraged Rotarians with “You must persist.” These were only 2 of 8 senators and congressmen with similar messages.
Rotary has made a difference. However, there is still work to do. I am proud of the many ways Rotarians of District 7570 have extended a hand – participation in National Immunization Days, fund raising efforts of clubs to contribute to Polio Plus and the support of the membership. Thank you for your service above self.