World Polio Day 2020: ‘Take Action! Eradicate A Disease Forever!

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To mark World Polio Day 2020 the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary, Gates Foundation, and Core Group came together to jointly reaffirm their commitment in the fight against polio, ‘that no child anywhere in the world suffers from this completely preventable disease’.

World Polio Day commemoration was organized on October 24 at Elilly Hotel with Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners and allies for the 8th time in Ethiopia, under the theme ‘Take Action. Eradicate A Disease Forever!’

At the event, Minister of Health, Dr. Lia Tadesse said that this year’s celebration coincides with the achievement where Africa is declared free of the wild polio virus. “But, the polio virus is still a threat to different parts of Africa, we should unite to fight this virus,” Lia added.

“We want everyone to become fully covered with vaccinations, and we are using consecutive campaigns and surveillance systems to increase our immunization coverage. What matters is not only the coverage but the quality as well,” she said. “The government is working hard to sustain the achievements in polio virus eradication not only from Ethiopia but from the region as well.”

During the ceremony Rotary Ethiopia recognized Dr. Lia Tadesse, with the Paul Harris Fellow for her outstanding contribution exemplifying the highest ideal in Rotary. The Paul Harris fellowship award is a recognition bestowed on a person who has done something significant for others and/or service to the club putting themself in the category of “Service Above Self”.

Dr Dereje Duguma State Minister of Health in his keynote address said that the World Polio Day celebration offers a unique opportunity to highlight the importance of continuous routine immunization amidst the COVID 19 outbreak.

Dr. Filimona Bisrat of CCRDA/Core Group Representative on his part congratulated all who were part of the fight to free the African Region from wild polio virus. “This shows that eradication is possible and achievable with dedication, partnership and support from partners and government,” he said.

He further added that all should continue focusing on the fight against polio. “The global pandemic affected the polio campaign, so everyone should focus on fighting polio starting from parents to policy makers,” he added.

National Polio Plus Committee Chair Rtn Teguest Yilma on her part, expressed gratitude for the firm commitment of Ethiopia in polio eradication and called upon the government to sustain its achievements. “Rotary International has been working with the government of Ethiopia to make the country free from polio, and is committed to continue supporting Ethiopia’s Polio eradication efforts until Polio is completely eliminated from the world.”

“A win against Polio is a win for global health,” she added.

A panel discussion on ‘COVID – 19 Impact on routine immunization and polio eradication, and COVID 19 and its vaccine’, was part of the WPD celebration with high profile panelists that include Dr Meseret Zelalem, Director of Maternal, Child Health, Youth Adolescent and Nutrition Directorate at MOH, Dr Muluken Yohannes, special Advisor to the Minister of Health, Dr Eshetu Wassie, Polio focal point and vaccine preventable diseases surveillance program coordinator with WHO. The panel was moderated by Professor Bogale Worku, National Polio Certification Committee Chairperson.