Every year October 24 marks World Polio Day. This year, 2014 will mark the 100th birthday of Jonas Salk, the medical researcher & virologist who developed the first safe and effective vaccine for polio.
Rotary International’s Pakistan National PolioPlus Committee organized a ceremony to illuminate the stately iconic landmark of Karachi – The Mohatta Palace Museum built in 1927, where a gathering of polio partners, civil society, government and Rotarians shared their thoughts and support toward polio eradication.
National Chair Aziz Memon opened the session with a pledge to stand steadfast until polio is completely eradicated from Pakistan emphasizing Rotary’s contributions and role; the District Governor Shahbaz Qureshi (Dist 3271) welcomed the guests and said “As far as the eradication of polio is concerned, Pakistan has become a source of concern for the entire world, since nearly 85 per cent of polio cases originate from here.”
Dr. Thomas Grein, representative from WHO expressed alarm over the country’s situation. “This is the highest number of cases reported in Pakistan since 1999,” he said, adding that experts should delve into the roots of the problem to find a solution. Dr. Nargis Khodjaeva – CFO UNICEF Sindh said “partner collaboration is the key to sustained efforts”.
PDG Faiz Kidwai said, another cause given for the spread of polio in the country was the absence of literacy. “Pakistan, still grappling with polio; we must work towards both education and polio eradication,” he explained. The Prime Minister’s Focal Person for polio eradication, Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali, pointed out some of the challenges in administering vaccines to children. “The virus is an invisible enemy that cripples our children,” she said, adding that the migration of people from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) to Karachi had contributed to the spread of polio in the metropolis.
Haji Hanif Tayyab – Chairperson Pakistan Polio Ulema Committee made a commitment on behalf of the Ulemas; Dr. Altaf Bosan – Technical Coordinator PM Monitoring Cell read out the Focal Person Ayesha Raza Farooq’s message to the gathering; Salman Ahmed – Polio Ambassador for Rotary in Pakistan said he is using the media to create awareness; DGN Saleem Rao of Dist 3271 (2016 -2017) mentioned Rotarians are working hard in Sindh and the Council General for the United States of America in Pakistan, Mr. Brian Heath, thanked Rotary for the invitation to attend the ceremony and said if the people work together ‘anything is possible’.
Dr. Azra Pechuho – Chairperson, Oversight Committee in conclusion said, “The Government if making every effort to do away with the disease. She thanked Rotary for their unflinching support toward polio eradication”.
PP Masood Ahmed Bhali – Zonal Coordinator Sindh, thanked the participants but specifically highlighted and mentioned the National Chair Aziz Memon, for his continuous and unwavering support in this war against polio.
The Mohatta Palace was illuminated and tea and refreshments were served at the end of the evening.