Hailing Rotary International as a crucial partner of the United Nations in the battle against polio, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today praised the group's perseverance in overcoming enormous obstacle in the campaign.
"For 22 years, you and your fellow Rotarians have dedicated your time and efforts to eradicating polio," he said in a video message to the organization on the campaign that has immunized almost two billion children around the world against the highly infectious, often paralyzing and sometimes fatal disease.
"You have done so in the face of extraordinary challenges. You have overcome financial shortfalls, conflict and lack of security. You have conquered cultural barriers and lack of political will.
"At every turn, in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, you have found creative solutions, in partnership with the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In this way, Rotarians have shown the world what can be achieved when civil society and the United Nations partner together."
The world's success in eradicating polio now depends on four countries - Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan - and a further $440 million is needed over the next two years for victory, according to an assessment in October by the independent Advisory Committee on Polio Eradication (ACPE), which oversees the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
"When the last chapter on polio eradication is finally written, it will tell one of the most spectacular success stories in public health," Mr. Ban said. "It will describe one of the world's most remarkable partnerships. And it will highlight your personal service to humanity.
"Today, Rotary's leadership is more critical than ever. Your determination and generosity will drive us to the finish line in our race against polio. I know you will go the distance. And I will be with you every step of the way."