Rotary International President says focus remains on a Polio Free World

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The president of Rotary International, Sakuji Tanaka, paid a weeklong visit to Ethiopia. He is the first president of one of the world’s largest humanitarian organization, Rotary International, to visit Ethiopia in the past 15 years. Tanaka says his organization remain focused on eradicating Polio from the earth. The president visited humanitarian activities undertaken with the contribution and support of Rotary in Ethiopia, including efforts to eradicate Polio, provide shelter, improve health coverage and provide meals for the hungry.

“A lot of Rotarians ask what would be our next move after we kick Polio out of the face of the world. However, the answer is that as an organization we have to focus our energy to eradicate Polio before crafting any other project. So, at present we are not talking anything about a post Polio move for our organization. First we have to certify a world free of Polio. However, on local levels; in clubs and districts, Rotarians engage themselves in the prevention of various other preventable disease. But, as an international humanitarian organization, we are focusing every effort of our organization to eradicate Polio,” Tanaka told Capital through his interpreter.

World peace takes center stage during Tanaka’s presidency. He will hold peace forums in Berlin in December this year, Honolulu in January and Hiroshima in May, 2013 respectively.

“While these events will takes place at historic sites, the main emphasis will be on the future and youth,” he said.

Sakuji Tanaka, a retired businessman from Japan, has been a member of Rotary since 1975. He has been leading a global network of more than 1.2 million Rotarians representing business and professional people in more than 200 countries since July 2012. Rotary International is an umbrella organization that has 34 thousand clubs under it.

Since 1985, Rotary clubs around the world have contributed more than USD 1.2 billion and countless volunteer hours toward ending Polio.

“Rotary initiated the eradication of Polio project in 1987. The annual cases that have been reported were close to 350 thousand globally. As of July 27, 2012, the global reported Polio cases have dropped to 100. Ninety five of the 100 reported cases are from endemic countries of Polio such as Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The remaining five are in Chad. The world has not reported a single Polio case since January 2012. The achievement over the years represents almost 99.99 percent. This is not enough we want a zero level of reported cases of Polio,” argued Past District Governor Nahu Senaye Araya, Chairman of the Polio Plus committee in Ethiopia.

There are three types of Polio virus. Type one; the strongest strain, type three; the second strongest strain, and type two, the relatively weak strain. Out of the three, the former two types are common in Africa. The virus can stay in the human body for up to 40 days before inflicting damage.

In addition to polio, Rotarians focus on water and sanitation, education, peace building, child and maternal health, economic development and empowerment of communities.

Rotarians throughout the world follow four principles:  truth, fairness, goodwill, better friendship and being beneficial to humanity.