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The eradication of Polio was the main agenda at a call to action event held by Africa’s First Ladies at the African Union today, Saturday, January 31. One of the main aims of the event which was held as part of the 24th African Union summit was to obtain agreements of attendees to commit to and support a polio free Africa as a top priority for their governments in 2015.
“The meeting marks our commitment to launch massive coordinated campaign, aimed at ‘Ending Polio and Building a Healthier Future’. Now is the chance for Africa to truly be polio-free. We need a strong final push to make this a reality,” stated Roman Tesfaye, Ethiopian Frist Lady speaking at the event.
Roman further called upon all of the First Ladies to make sure the eradication of polio happens and to work towards that goal in a creative manner partnering with several stakeholders such as the media.
Speaking at the event was also Rotary International representative Marie-Irene Richmond who is Rotary 9101 District Governor from Ivory Coast that statedno cases of polio have been reported in Africa since August of 2014.
“We are confident that this progress is genuine because we have vastly improved our ability to detect cases and respond to outbreaks when they occur. There are more laboratories and more trained health workers than ever before,” she stated. She further said that through efforts, new ways have been found to reach every child with polio vaccination and that hard work has brought the continent to the threshold of a polio free Africa.
Rotary International is one of the biggest funding partnersfor the cause to eradicate polio. Just this month, the organization released over 34 million USD in support of immunization activities and research to be carried out by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
It is said that the funds will be used by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF for polio immunization, surveillance and research activities in ten countries, as well as to provide technical assistance to additional countries in Africa.
The event was attended by several high official guests such as the First Lady of Chad and President of the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) Hinda DebyItno, Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Gakuo Kenyatta as well as First Lady of Rwanda Jeanette Kagame.
The event was organized by OAFLA in collaboration with the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).