Lahore, 8 April 2019 - A delegation from Rotary International visited the Punjab Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Lahore last week for a meet and greet with the new EOC Coordinator, Mr Salman Ghani. The mission included the Chair of International PolioPlus Committee, Mr Mike McGovern, the Director of International PolioPlus Committee, Ms Carol Pandak, and Mr Aziz Memon of National PolioPlus Committee for Pakistan.
Rotary International is one of the largest donors for polio eradication in Pakistan – they initiated a worldwide effort to eradicate polio in 1985 by starting the Polio Plus campaign. Their famous red and yellow ‘END POLIO NOW’ slogan is internationally known.
Rotary has taken numerous initiatives in Pakistan for polio eradication, especially in high-risk districts. For Punjab, they have provided 20 containers for permanent transit sites to ensure vaccination of high-risk populations on the move. They have installed 10 water filtration plants in different cities to provide clean water, and in every polio campaign numerous Rotarians set-up polio vaccination camps at busy areas of cities.
The support of Rotary International is not limited to just polio; following their PolioPlus agenda, they now provide support to improving routine immunization as well. Just recently Rotary has provided 2 solar refrigerators for south Punjab to support routine immunization. Polio teams are distinguished for their rotary vaccine carriers, caps and jackets. To motivate frontline workers, Rotarians organized a Polio Hero Award Ceremony in Punjab to recognize the best vaccinators in Lahore.
Rotary has an Ulema Committee for Pakistan that comprises eminent religious leaders from across the country. They conduct Ulema workshops in high-risk areas of Pakistan to address any religion-based concerns regarding the vaccine. They have previously conducted workshops in Dera Ghazi Khan, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Quetta, Karachi, and are now planning for Peshawar.
Mr Aziz Memon of National PolioPlus Committee for Pakistan said: “we understand that time is critical, we don’t want any more children to be paralyzed and under the leadership of our Prime Minister we want to make Pakistan polio-free.”
Rotary International is set to inaugurate a new Permanent Transit Site in Rawalpindi. The WHO provincial Team Leader, Dr Raul Bonifacio, commended the role of Rotary in supporting the vaccination of high-risk migrant and mobile populations. Ms Carol Pandak also appreciated the need to urgently eradicate polio in Pakistan.