Rotary recognizes Japanese Prime Minister as leader in the global effort to eradicate polio

Polio Eradication Champion Award presented

In recognition of his leadership and the support of the Japanese government toward ending the paralyzing disease polio, Rotary presented Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with its Polio Eradication Champion Award for outstanding commitment to ending polio on 28 May 2015.

“Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the government of Japan have played a critical role in protecting children from polio, which just over two decades ago paralyzed 1,000 children each day,” said Rotary International President Gary C.K. Huang. “Yet wiping a disease from the face of the earth is not easy, and the final push is the most challenging. As long as polio exists anywhere, we run the risk of outbreaks everywhere. The continued support of Japan and other governments will remain vital as we strive to eradicate this disease.”

With a commitment of ¥ 55.3 billion (US$475 million) to polio eradication since 1988, Japan is the third largest government donor to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Japan has supported a number of innovative initiatives in the three countries where polio has never been stopped – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria – and other countries at high-risk for polio outbreaks. Under Prime Minister Abe’s leadership, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) approved a ¥ 8.285 billion loan to purchase oral polio vaccine (OPV) for polio immunization campaigns in Nigeria. Japan has also approved innovative funding through JICA which is supporting efforts to end the disease in Pakistan. Most recently, the government of Japan announced a contribution of ¥ 562 million (US$5.4 million) to support critical polio immunization activities in Pakistan.

Rotary established the Polio Eradication Champion Award in 1995 to honour heads of state, health agency leaders and others who have made significant contributions to the global eradication of polio. Prime Minister Abe is the third Japanese leader recognized with this award. Previously, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi received the Polio Eradication Champion Award in 2006. Since that time, Japan has contributed ¥ 18.8 billion (US$161.38 million) to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto received the award in 2003.

In addition to donating to the global effort to end polio, Japanese Rotarians travel abroad at their own expense to immunize children against polio in endemic and high-risk countries.

Japan also played a key role in championing polio eradication during its 2008 G8 Presidency, which acknowledged considerable progress on polio eradication, and included a reference to the importance of meeting commitments to support the GPEI in its health approach. Japan will be convening the next G7 in 2016. More

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