Letter from RI General Secretary John Hewko

Mark Pearce Announcements, District Governor

Dear Governor,

In a recent opinion piece, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned of the global polio threat: “Wild viruses and wildfires have two things in common. If neglected, they can spread out of control. If handled properly, they can be stamped out for good. Today, the flame of polio is near extinction — but sparks in three countries threaten to ignite a global blaze. Now is the moment to act.” Rotarians have been acting to stamp out polio for the last 26 years, but our work is not yet done.

Please note the recent developments in the fight against polio which highlight the need for urgent action:

  • At their May meeting, The World Health Assembly (WHA) declared the completion of polio eradication a programmatic emergency for global public health. In total, 35 member states spoke to offer their strong support to the resolution, many highlighting the feasibility and opportunity of eradication in the near-term, but expressing concern at the ongoing funding gap that is threatening success.
  • The Trustees of The Rotary Foundation recently reaffirmed that polio eradication is the most urgent priority of the organization, and emphasized that Rotary’s continued commitment is critical until the disease is eradicated.
  • The current funding gap remains a threat. At their March 2012 meeting, the Trustees agreed to continue the match currently provided to PolioPlus contributions (US$0.50 from the World Fund for every US$1.00 DDF) as an incentive for districts to contribute DDF and agreed that the available World Fund match will be applied on a first come/first served basis and capped at US$3.5 million annually for the next five fiscal years.
  • Recent media coverage reinforces the message that polio is an urgent public health matter. Rotary has enhanced its communications efforts and many of the articles in the links below highlight the role that Rotarians are playing at this crucial stage in the effort. We encourage you to get involved in sharing the news with Rotarians in your district and in your communities:

    Rotarians successfully met Rotary’s US$200 Million Challenge. But the goal of a polio-free world has not yet been reached and funds are still needed. You are instrumental in encouraging your district to continue fundraising for PolioPlus and educating local communities that the job is not yet done. Activities such as sharing PolioPlus media coverage with club and district officers keep the subject on people’s minds.

    Rotarians played an important role in stopping polio transmission in India and we will do the same in the remaining three endemic countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. Please join us by working in your clubs and districts to highlight the goal of a polio-free world. We stand on the threshold of this historic achievement, and together we can extinguish the polio flame once and for all.

    With best regards,
    John Hewko
    General Secretary, The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International