Just one of the many reasons people join Rotary – to do good in the world and give valuable service to their communities.
Volunteers and health care workers set out to administer oral polio vaccines to hundreds of children during an immunization campaign in Cote d’Ivoire
 
International cooperation and leadership means Africa is now Polio Free
 
"Africa is now rid of a terrible disease which has crippled and killed so many people.  The reason Africa is able to be declared Polio Free is through international cooperation and leadership". This is a statement I made as Chair of the International Immunization Policy Taskforce of the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) and Rotary International 9705 District Governor in Australia.
 
WFPHA Immunization Policy Taskforce used the opportunity to applaud public health professionals and associations, Rotary International, the World Health Organization, GAVI, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and all supporters for making Africa Polio Free.
 
It is a great step forward and a reminder of the need to maintain international cooperation, to increase drive and finish the job. With less than a hundred cases this year, and all limited to remote areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the end is within reach. The vision is clear. Smallpox has been eliminated. Now, for the second time, the world can achieve the elimination of yet another devastating disease.
 
As much as leadership has been important, the people on the ground who deliver the vaccine, who continue to monitor and maintain vigilance in very tiring conditions are the ones who actually achieve the outcome. Our sincere thanks go to them. In a year when the world is being tested by COVID-19, it is an important milestone to illustrate the effectiveness of vaccines and to commit appropriate resources to immunization generally.
 
This milestone is also an opportunity to recognise the contribution of a public health hero, Sir Clement Renouf AM who died just a couple of months ago. As International President of Rotary in 1978-79 he started Rotary down the path of eliminating polio, and by doing so, encouraged the WHO and others to get involved.  It is a shame that he did not live to see his dream achieved – or even this significant milestone.
 
Rotary is in for the long haul – the best part of four decades – and our persistence through our donations to the Rotary Foundation Polio Plus (which are doubled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) and our international efforts on the ground, will see an eradication of this terrible disease.
 
Michael