Rotary Club

No new wild polio virus in 20 weeks — Rotary president 

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President Bola Tinubu has commended Rotary International for its various interventions in the country’s health sector, including a new grant of $14 million to enable the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide technical assistance to the government of Nigeria on polio surveillance. 

He gave the commendation when he received the organisation’s president, Mr. Gordon Mclnally, his wife, Heather; Rotary’s Polio Ambassador to Nigeria, Sir Emeka Offor, and other notable Rotarians, on Friday, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

President Tinubu assured that the federal government will continue to partner with reputable organisations such as Rotary International in ongoing efforts to eradicate all forms of polio and reduce the prevalence of maternal and infant mortality in the country. 

According to him, it is a national obligation for the government to prioritise the welfare of Nigerians, support their advancement, and ensure that they are not hindered by any form of disease. 

Tinubu stated: ”It is a joy to have the President of Rotary International, his wife, Sir Emeka Offor, and other Rotarians in our midst. Thank you for representing a great commitment to humanity. Thank you for the job you are doing. Rotary International has a good reputation for social commitment, not only for the leading role it played in the eradication of polio in Africa but also in addressing other diseases. 

”You have saved countless mothers and children. You are also contributing to the growth of local economies by helping nations combat unforeseen diseases and deaths. You are doing a great job in the protection of the environment and other areas of humanitarian commitment.”

President Tinubu acknowledged the contributions of volunteers from Rotary Clubs in Nigeria who he said have been instrumental in supporting polio eradication initiatives in the country. 

”Whatever is necessary for us to do, I want to assure you that the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare and his team will be on call and available at any time,” he stated. 

In his remarks, McInally praised President Tinubu’s support for healthcare interventions for disadvantaged Nigerians throughout his public service career. 

He offered honorary Rotary membership to the president in recognition of his past and present efforts to rapidly enhance Nigeria’s health sector.

Mr Mclnally highlighted Nigeria’s support for global polio eradication efforts and polio-free status, having been certified as a polio-free nation in 2020. 

”We must remain vigilant and continue our efforts in this field. Rotarians here in Nigeria are tirelessly working to ensure that children worldwide do not suffer from any crippling disease that can even take their lives,” he said. 

Speaking to correspondents later, the Rotary president affirmed that no single new case of the wild poliovirus has been reported anywhere in the world in the last 20 weeks. 

He said only 12 cases have been confirmed worldwide domiciled in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. 

He expressed happiness that the virus had been eradicated in Nigeria, confident that all of the world would soon be rid of it. 

The Rotary president recalled that 30 years ago, the world had recorded about 350,000 wild polioviruses every year until now, saying that his organisation is partnering with relevant institutions toward the eradication of the virus.  

MclNally stated: “Polio eradication has been our flagship campaign for many years now and since the late 1980s, we have been working tirelessly to remove that crippling disease from the face of the earth. We did that in Nigeria, in 2019 and we all rejoiced when Nigeria was certified polio-free. We will rejoice again and I hope in the not-too-distant future when the entire world is certified polio-free. 

“Thirty years ago, there were more than 350,000 cases of polio every year. In 2023, there were only 12 cases of polio anywhere in the world and all 12 cases were in a very prescribed area on the Afghan-Pakistan border. 

“Even more exciting is the fact that it is now 20 weeks since we saw a single case of wild polio anywhere in the world.

“That is a cause for great celebration. But we must remain vigilant and we must carry on our polio campaign to ensure that we complete the job we started and to ensure that the entire world is free from the disease in the same way that Nigeria is at present.”

 


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