|© UNICEF video|
|A child receives polio vaccine during a National Immunization Day.|
By Jane O’Brien
NEW YORK, 29 September 2005 – UNICEF is to extend cooperation with one of its most important partners in the campaign to wipe out polio. Rotary International has provided more than $180 million to UNICEF for this work and encourages governments to give practical support for the eradication initiative.
“UNICEF occupies a very special position for Rotary,” said Frank Devlyn, Trustee Chairman of The Rotary Foundation at today’s meeting of the UNICEF Executive Board. “We are trying to save children’s lives and this partnership has proved that we can do that. It’s proved that an organisation such as Rotary can come together with UNICEF and do so much more together.”
The Rotary-UNICEF partnership on polio started in 1988 when the World Health Assembly resolved to eradicate the disease. Rotary’s assistance has provided grants to buy oral vaccines and has helped carry out National Immunization Days in countries around the world. Rotary members work with UNICEF staff to coordinate activities on the ground.
‘We have an obligation to the world’
In the late 1980s there were 350,000 cases of polio every year in 125 countries. Since the eradication efforts began, the number of cases has been reduced by more than 99 per cent. There are now just six countries where the virus is endemic. Mr. Devlyn believes polio could be eradicated by 2006.
“We are on the right track and if it isn’t [eradicated] we are going to continue working on it,” he says. “We are not going to give up. We are going to continue.
“People who ask for money get what they call donor fatigue and people who are giving call it giving fatigue. But we are not going to be fatigued. We are going to keep working because we have an obligation to the world.”
At today’s UNICEF Executive Board meeting, the two organizations agreed to continue working together until polio is eradicated. Other joint projects are slated for future discussion.