Rotary’s top goal of polio eradication by touring Pakistan, Rotary President

ISLAMABAD (VOM) – President of Rotary International, Jennifer Jones, visited the National Emergency Operations Centre and met the leadership of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Initiative.

The visit has come at a crucial time as the Pakistan Polio Programme strengthens operations and adapts new strategies to contain the virus that has been detected in seven different cities recently.

“At the start of my presidency, I’m proud to highlight and prioritize Rotary’s top goal of polio eradication by touring Pakistan—one of two remaining endemic countries–and spotlighting the women health workers who play a critical role in protecting children from this vaccine-preventable disease,” President Jennifer Jones said at a meeting at the NEOC.

The meeting included representatives of the Pakistan Government, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, WHO and CDC.

President Jones is Rotary’s first woman president since the organization was founded in 1905.

“Rotary’s spirit of service above self is an inspiration to people all over the world. Some of us sitting here may not have been able to walk today if Rotarians had not envisioned a polio-free world,” said NEOC Coordinator Shahzad Baig.

President Jones toured the Polio Control Room, 1166 helpline and the vaccine warehouse. Her visit to the NEOC came following her trip to Karachi where she met female health workers in the field.

Speaking about the importance of women’s engagement in eradication efforts, Polio Director for WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region, Dr Hamid Jafari, said, “Polio programmes around the world have benefited greatly from the contributions of women at the forefront. It is heartening to see President Jones’ directly engage and motivate women vaccinators who make up 65 per cent of the polio workforce in Pakistan.”

For over three decades, Rotary has been the driving force in the effort to end polio worldwide and is a founding member of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

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