[Daily Times] The Rotary International, on Monday, presented the Rotary Polio Eradication Champions Award to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking while presenting the award at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Chairman of Rotary Foundation, Wilfred Wilkinson, said the honour was in recognition of the President’s commitment to the eradication of polio in Nigeria.
Wilkinson,who was the President of Rotary International from 2007 to 2008, said Nigeria recorded 95 percent reduction in wild polio infection in 2010, with Jonathan’s renewed efforts towards eradication of the disease.
According to him, their research in 2011 on polio in Nigeria showed that the disease continued to threaten the hard-won-gains of the previous year, however, his organisation recognised Jonathan’s renewed efforts at addressing the retrogression by setting up a special task force to eradicate polio.
Jonathan thanked the Rotary Club for the award and its efforts towards polio eradication and other humanitarian services in the country and assured that his administration remained committed to the eradication of the disease by 2015.
“One thing I promise the Nigerian child, and also the Nigerian father and mother is that if we cannot solve all the health problems in this country now, one thing this present administration is committed to, is eradicating polio by 2015,” he said.
“I have already told the minister of state for health that directly oversees this aspect that we must do all what we can to eradicate polio in the next two years in this country.
“Luckily for us, the incidence of polio is now limited to two geopolitical zones and if within the zones, the spread is limited to about 5 or 8 states, I believe that with commitment from the central government, the state government, and the traditional rulers, in the next two years, we should be able to eradicate polio.”
He assured the Rotary Club that he would work with them and other stakeholders to completely eradicate polio.
It will be recalled that the President, on March 1, inaugurated a Presidential Task Force on Polio Eradication with an order to get rid of the disease in the country within the next 24 months.
During the inauguration of the Task Force, Jonathan said despite the progress recorded in the last few years, 51 cases of polio were recorded in 2011, as against 21 in 2010.
The President announced an increase in the funding for polio eradication in the country from its current $17 million to $30 million, and pledged to further increase the amount in future.