29 May 2016 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today praised the “invaluable partnership” between Rotary International and the United Nations, telling delegates gathered in Seoul, Korea, for the organization’s annual international conference that Rotarians had been instrumental in working with the UN to defeat polio.
“Our common activities are saving lives. And they are based on a spirit of trust. My main message is simple. Just four words: ‘thank you very much,’” Mr. Ban said earlier today, adding: “You help the United Nations reach our goals. And you help the world understand the United Nations.”
Noting that Rotarians had even helped with the founding of the United Nations, participating in the San Francisco Conference, the Secretary-General said that throughout the history of both organizations, Rotarians have been “using their time, funds and energy to help our world,” and he specifically noted their “monumental contributions” to eradicating polio.
“The United Nations is proud to be your partner in ending this debilitating disease. When Rotary International launched its campaign in 1985, more than 350,000 children were paralyzed by polio every year,” he said underscoring that individual Rotarians have generously contributed an astounding $1.2 billion to the campaign. Moreover, they have engaged donor governments to secure an additional $6 billion in funds.
“And Rotarians are on the frontlines of this fight. They travel to communities. They speak to parents. They spread hope. And they contribute to a safer world for everyone. I congratulate Rotary International for helping reduce polio by 99 per cent,” said the UN chief, emphasizing that from hundreds of thousands of cases each year, now there are fewer than two dozen.
Africa is polio free, he continued, and also noted that while Afghanistan and Pakistan are still affected, the organizations are working hard to help them stamp out polio. “Rotary’s PolioPlus programme has helped to avert massive suffering. Some 16 million people who would have been paralyzed by polio can walk. Around a million and a half children are alive today thanks to PolioPlus,” explained the Secretary-General hailing the programme’s “immeasurable” results, in both human and financial terms.
“We are all anxiously waiting for ‘case zero,’ [but] until that day comes, we have to redouble our efforts,” said the Secretary-General he has advocated with leaders and has stood side by side with friends from Rotary International at anti-polio events around the world.
“Our partnership is stronger than polio – but we must keep up the fight. Please continue to raise your voices, hold your governments accountable and campaign hard until we end this disease,” said the UN chief, stressing that the campaign is difficult and even, in some instances, dangerous, as any frontline workers risk their lives to vaccinate children. Others have been killed in the effort, he said, paying tribute to “these anti-polio champions” by leaving a polio-free world to future generations.
Source: UN Website