Okello Mobilises Rotary for Polio Eradication

The Representative of the World Health Organisation in Nigeria, Dr. David Okello has urged Rotary International not to relent in its advocacy and fund raising efforts to ensure that polio is eradicated from the world.

Dr. Okello who was the keynote speaker at the installation ceremony of District Governor of Rotary International District 9110 said Rotary’s commitment to the ongoing global polio eradication initiative is not in doubt.

He urged Rotarians not to be de-motivated by the recent upsurge of wild polio viruses in Nigeria, adding that after 20 years of hard work, Rotary and its partners including the World Health Organization are on the brink of eradicating polio - but a strong push is needed now to root it out once and for all. It is a window of opportunity of historic proportions.

Dr. Okello explained that owing to Rotary’s unalloyed commitment to polio eradication worldwide, endemic wild poliovirus has been eliminated from all but three countries in the world - Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. He said that “Today, polio case burden has been reduced from 350,000 per annum in 1988 to  84 cases at the end of June 2012, 49 of which are from Nigeria alone.”

He lamented that Nigeria is now the largest contributor of global polio burden so far in 2012. He explained that the transmission of the disease in Nigeria poses a real threat to the global polio eradication effort.

He was, however, optimistic that the Nigeria government in collaboration with development partners and Rotary has put in place an emergency plan which is already being implemented to ensure that polio transmission is stopped come December 2012.

On his part, the new District Governor, Dr. Kamoru Omotosho made assurance that Rotary will continue to support the efforts to stop polio and save the Nigerian children from the agony of paralysis due to polio.

The occasion featured fun fare, entertainment by Nigerian artists and cutting of the installation cake. Dignitaries at the ceremony include representative of the Governor of Lagos state, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Senator Solomon Ganiyu and former Minister of Health Prince Juli Adelusi-Adeluyi, who was the first District Governor of the first Rotary District in Nigeria among others.