Jonathan Stambolis, Adviser to Secretary-General of the United Nations along with NYU Center for Global Affairs invited PDG Deepak Kapur, Chairman of the India National Polio Plus Committee (2001-2013) ) and PDG George Camp, District 7230 Polio Plus Chair spoke at the United Nations regarding Rotary’s Efforts to Eradicate Polio throughout the world. Professor Colette Mazzucelli, who was a Rotary Graduate Ambassadorial Scholar, in Strasbourg, France studying at the University there and participating in the work of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe led the session.
Through the consistent efforts of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary works with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the Bill& Melinda Gates Foundation to eradicate this dreadful disease. Polio cases have dropped from 350,000 in 1988 to less than 100 in 2012. In the same period, endemic countries fell from 125 to three. India, which, because of population density and poor sanitation, was considered the greatest challenge, had zero polio cases last year.
In the context of efforts by Rotary International to eradicate polio, it reflects on the emerging activism of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in a vital area of concern. Instead of making the claim that NGOs constitute global civil society or represent the peoples of the world, the session investigated how Rotarians care to the needs of millions who might otherwise be in danger of contracting the polio virus, thereby establishing Rotary’s expertise and competence in this particular case.
Jalaa’ Abdelwahab the Technical Officer/Epidemiologist in the Poliomyelitis Eradication Team at UNICEF Headquarters in NY expounded on the work that has been accomplished through their partnership with Rotary International and the efforts of Rotarians.
He provides support to governments and partners in polio eradication activities including: providing technical guidance in developing strategies, capacity building, reviewing and developing surveillance systems, communication and social mobilization, and planning and implementing house-to-house polio immunization campaigns in Africa and Asia. He noted that without the efforts of Rotary they wouldn’t have gotten this far in the eradication efforts.
The participant’s conclusion was, Rotary International has a large membership and has made a tremendous contribution to the efforts of Eradicating Polio and because of the members dedication to “Service Above Self” they can be a major supporter and implementer of future efforts in the area of water and other efforts needed by people around the world.