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

PM Abbott receives Polio Champion Award

PM Abbott receives Polio Champion Award Rotary

In recognition of his leadership and the support of the Australian government toward ending the paralyzing disease polio, Rotary presented Prime Minister Tony Abbott with its Polio Eradication Champion Award on the 9 December 2014. This award coincides with the celebration of forty years of Australian aid.

Speaking earlier this year at Rotary’s annual international convention held in Sydney, Prime Minister Abbott and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, reaffirmed their government’s commitment of AUD$ 100 million for the period 2014-2018 to end polio. The government of Australia has to date contributed AUD$ 73.02 million toward the global eradication of polio.

“A disease that once paralyzed 1,000 children each day is now almost history,” said K.R. Ravindran, President-elect of Rotary International. “Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the government of Australia have helped the world make tremendous progress in the effort to eradicate polio, yet we cannot stop until every child is safe from the devastating effects of this disease. The support of Prime Minister Abbott and the government of Australia will prove vital as we seek to eliminate polio from the world by 2018.”

Australia’s contribution will support the collective efforts of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a partnership between Rotary, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This unique private-public partnership has reduced the global incidence of polio by 99%. Today, only three countries remain endemic – Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. The effort is characterized by its engagement of all levels of civil society and its strong partnership with the private sector. Innovative approaches, including new vaccines and delivery technologies, are ensuring that children in even the most remote and hard-to-reach areas have access to the services they deserve. Australia’s support will help to ensure that more than 450 million children are vaccinated every year with multiple doses, and that inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) is rolled out according to strategic plan timelines by end-2015 across the world, including in the Indo-Pacific region.

Rotary established the Polio Eradication Champion Award in 1995 to honor heads of state, health agency leaders and others who have made significant contributions to the global eradication of polio. Past recipients include Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada; Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; David Cameron, Prime Minister of Great Britain; Enda Kenny, Prime Minister of Ireland; Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria; and Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. Prime Minister Abbott is the second Australian leader to receive this recognition. Prime Minister John Howard was honoured by Rotary in 2005.

Rotary made polio eradication its top philanthropic goal in 1985. As the volunteer arm of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary has contributed more than US$1.3 billion to ending polio. This includes more than AUD$24.7 (US$21) million contributed by the more than 30,000 members of 1,114 Rotary clubs in Australia.

Since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative launched in 1988, more than 2.5 billion children worldwide have received the oral polio vaccine, causing the incidence of the disease to plummet by more than 99 percent, from about 350,000 new cases a year to fewer than 420 for all of 2013.

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