Month: August 2019

Nigeria reaches crucial polio milestone

By Ryan Hyland

Volunteers vaccinate children in Maiduguri, Nigeria, against polio, marking the houses they’ve visited.

Photo by Andrew Esiebo

It’s been three years since health officials last reported a case of polio caused by the wild poliovirus in Nigeria. The milestone, reached on 21 August, means that it’s possible for the entire World Health Organization (WHO) African region to be certified wild poliovirus-free next year.

Nigeria’s success is the result of several sustained efforts, including domestic and international financing, the commitment of thousands of health workers, and strategies to immunize children who previously couldn’t be reached because of a lack of security in the country’s northern states.

“Rotary, its Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners, and the Nigerian government have strengthened immunization and disease detection systems,” says Michael K. McGovern, chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee. He adds: “We are now reaching more children than ever in some of the hardest-to-reach places in Nigeria.”

McGovern says Rotary members in Nigeria play an important role in ridding the country of the disease. “Rotarians have been hard at work raising awareness for polio eradication, advocating with the government, and addressing other basic health needs to complement polio eradication efforts, like providing clean water to vulnerable communities.”

Nigeria is the last country in Africa where polio is endemic. Once Africa is certified as free of the wild poliovirus, five of the WHO’s six regions will be free of wild polio. Polio remains endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which means transmission of the virus has never been stopped.

Dr. Tunji Funsho, chair of Rotary’s Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee, acknowledges the milestone but cautions Rotary members about celebrating too soon. He cites the challenge of making certain that routine immunizations reach every child in Nigeria.

“It’s paramount that we ensure all doors are locked to the re-entry of the wild poliovirus into our country,” says Funsho.

Funsho says to achieve this, Rotary needs to maintain strong advocacy efforts, continue to increase awareness of immunization campaigns, and ensure members raise necessary funds. Rotary has contributed $268 million to fight polio in Nigeria.

“As the first organization to dream of a polio-free world, Rotary is committed to fulfilling our promise,” says McGovern. “Our progress in Nigeria is a big step toward that goal, but we need to maintain momentum so that Pakistan and Afghanistan see the same level of progress.”

Join Rotary on World Polio Day, 24 October, to celebrate our progress. Help us reach our goal of a polio-free world by donating today.

https://www.rotary.org/en/nigeria-reaches-crucial-polio-milestone

Shekhar Mehta of India selected to be 2021-22 Rotary International President

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Shekhar Mehta, of the Rotary Club of Calcutta-Mahanagar, West Bengal, India, is the selection of the Nominating Committee for President of Rotary International for 2021-22.

Shekhar Mehta, of the Rotary Club of Calcutta-Mahanagar, West Bengal, India, is the selection of the Nominating Committee for President of Rotary International for 2021-22. He will be declared the president-nominee on 1 October if no challenging candidates have been suggested.

Mehta acknowledges that current membership trends are a challenge and says that membership development should be Rotary’s highest priority. He believes that focusing on regional plans, successfully transitioning Rotaractors into Rotary clubs, and increasing diversity and female members could yield a 5 percent net growth in membership each year.

“A major brainstorming is needed to find effective solutions suited to different areas of the world,” says Mehta. He adds that regional ethos and culture have to be taken into account to find localized solutions, as “one size does not fit all.” He believes Rotary can extend to new geographical areas and countries.

As a strong proponent of Rotary’s strategic plan, Mehta says he will encourage clubs to use action plans and reinforce the core values of Rotary.

Mehta says Rotary needs to become more contemporary and adaptable by focusing on partnerships with governments and corporations, expanding partnerships with organizations that specialize in Rotary’s areas of focus, and investing in technology.

Mehta, an accountant, is chair of the Skyline Group, a real estate development company he founded. He is also a director of Operation Eyesight Universal (India), a Canada-based organization.

Mehta has been actively involved in disaster response and is a trustee of ShelterBox, UK. After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, he helped build nearly 500 homes for families affected by the disaster.

Mehta pioneered a program that has performed more than 1,500 life-changing heart surgeries in South Asia. He is also the architect of the TEACH Program, which promotes literacy throughout India and has reached thousands of schools.

A Rotary member since 1984, Mehta has served Rotary as director, member or chair of several committees, zone coordinator, training leader, member of The Rotary Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisers, and district governor. He is also the chair of Rotary Foundation (India).

Mehta has received Rotary’s Service Above Self Award and The Rotary Foundation’s Citation for Meritorious Service and Distinguished Service Awards.

He and his wife, Rashi, are Major Donors and members of the Bequest Society.

To learn more about Mehta, read his interview and vision statement outlining his goals for Rotary.

The members of the Nominating Committee for the 2021-22 President of Rotary International are: Mikael Ahlberg, Ölands Södra, Sweden; Bernhard Baumgartner, Kitzbühel, Austria; Gerson Gonçalves, Londrina-Norte, Pr., Brazil; Serge Gouteyron, Valenciennes-Denain aérodrome, Nord, France; Mary Beth Growney Selene, Madison West Towne-Middleton, Wisconsin, USA; Allan O. Jagger, Halifax, W. Yorks., England; Masahiro Kuroda, Hachinohe South, Aomori, Japan; Hsiu-Ming (Frederick) Lin, Taipei Tungteh, Taiwan; Larry A. Lunsford (secretary), Kansas City-Plaza, Missouri, USA; Anne L. Matthews (chair), Columbia East, South Carolina, USA; Ekkehart Pandel, Bückeburg, Germany; P. T. Prabhakar, Madras Central, Tamil Nadu, India; José Antonio Salazar Cruz, Bogotá Occidente, Cund., Colombia; M.K. Panduranga Setty, Bangalore, Karnataka, India; Steven A. Snyder, Auburn, California, USA; Yoshimasa Watanabe, Kojima, Okayama, Japan; and SangKoo Yun, Sae Hanyang, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

https://www.rotary.org/en/shekhar-mehta-india-selected-be-2021-22-rotary-international-president

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