President of Chad receives prestigious Rotary ‘Polio Eradication Champion’ Award
On 8 August 2010, the President of Chad, Idriss Deby Itno, received the prestigious Rotary ‘Polio Eradication Champion’ award.
The award was given in recognition of the President’s personal engagement in Chad’s polio eradication efforts. Officially presenting the award at a ceremony at the Presidential palace in N’Djamena, Chad, Bob Scott, Chairman of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee, said: “Your personal engagement in the fight against this disease has translated into concrete action which has led to the reduction in polio cases in your country.”
Receiving the award, the President re-affirmed his commitment to polio eradication: “We will not let down our guard, we are remaining steadfast and multiplying our vaccination campaigns,” he re-affirmed.
Chad has been affected by re-established transmission from an imported poliovirus since November 2007. Its outbreak response efforts had been marred by significant operational challenges during supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) – as recently as last year, upwards of 50% of children were regularly missed during SIAs in the greater N’Djamena area. In February of this year, however, the President personally intervened, officially launching National Immunization Days (NIDs), declaring ‘war’ on the polio outbreak and issuing a Presidential directive to all Provincial Governors for direct oversight of SIAs. Since then, under the President’s personal leadership, significant operational improvements have been noted, in particular with regard to more effective planning and vaccinator performance, and the number of newly-reported cases has begun to decline.
The ‘Polio Eradication Champion’ award was established in 1995, and is the highest honour Rotary presents to heads of state, health agency leaders and others who have made significant contributions toward polio eradication.
In receiving Rotary’s ‘Polio Eradication Champion’ award, President Deby Itno joins a group of other distinguished leaders whom Rotary has honored including India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former Secretary General Kofi Annan, President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, and former Chairperson of the African Union Commission Alpha Oumar Konare.