11 may. 2012

Southeast Asia approaches Polio-free certification?

Bangkok, May 11 : With India entering the final stages of eliminating polio and closing to earn itself the coveted 'polio-free status certificate' in next two years, the global community has sought renewed commitment in the crusade against the dreaded disease, calling for further resource mobilization and renewed fund support.

This was conveyed at the 103rd Rotary International Convention held in Thailand that was attended by more than 35,000 Rotarians from 23 countries, Royal Princess of Thailand Chulabhorn and other dignitaries.

"India, once the world's largest global exporter of polio cases, will become the last country in Southeast Asia to be certified polio-free if it remains polio-free for three years. This will be a major achievement as more focussed strategy can be adopted towards battling resurgence threats from wild polio virus," said Kalyan Banerjee, Chairman, Rotary International.

Amidst celebration, speakers reminded the festive assembly that the work is far from complete, because the ultimate goal is yet to be reached as three countries continues to remain polio endemic and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (an alliance of WHO, CDC, Rotary and UNICEF) was facing a significant funding shortfall of over USUSD 1 billion for activities in 2012-2013.

Bruce Aylward, Assistant Director-General for Polio, Emergencies and Country Collaboration, World Health Organization, said India's removal from the polio-endemic list is "perhaps the most important milestone ever on the long road to eradication."

But an upsurge in cases of paralysis from polio in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and recent polio outbreaks in China, the Congo, and Tajikistan have also prompted what he called an "unprecedented push" to finally end the disease.

He said 192 ministers of health will meet soon and declare polio a public health emergency.

Calling corporates to play more active role in community service, Rajashree Birla, Chairperson, Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development, said, "Corporate indirectly stimulate their own business development if they push their energies and help resolve social sector issues through engagement. There is much to be gained when business leaders take giving to heart, and set the mandate of making a difference by caring for people in their community."

The three day convention also witnessed Princess Chulabhorn representing King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the opening ceremony and thanking Rotarians for their work around the world.

Other dignitaries present on the occasion included Sukhumbhan Boribhat, Bangkok Governor; Hugh Evans, Anti-poverty crusader and Cofounder of the Global Poverty Project; Gillian Sorensen, Senior Adviser and national advocate at the United Nations Foundation; Angelique Kidjo, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador; Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and Microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The Rotary International convention in Bangkok is estimated to inject more than USD 100 million into the Thai economy. (IBNS)

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