Behind the scenes of polio eradication

Posted by By Diana Schoberg on Jan 06, 2018
At the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta in June, world leaders were on hand to celebrate a historic $1.2 billion in commitments to finance polio eradication. It was a huge moment for the polio eradication effort. But how did it come about?
A group of Rotary volunteers has been hard at work behind the scenes: our PolioPlus national advocacy advisers. This team of Rotarians from donor countries has a mission to make sure polio eradication is on the global agenda. In the corridors of power, they relentlessly work their connections – lunches with government officials, phone calls with ministers – to garner money and support for ending the disease.
And they’ve been successful: Since Rotary’s advocacy program started in 1995, it has generated more than $8 billion toward ending polio. The United States is the leading public sector donor to global polio eradication with a cumulative investment that totals $3 billion through fiscal 2017, thanks in large part to the leadership of Past RI President James L. Lacy and members of the Polio Eradication Advocacy Task Force for the U.S. Their advocacy colleagues around the world have done remarkable work as well.
“The national advocacy advisers always come through in knowing the right people to speak with in government and in arranging key meetings,” says Michael K. McGovern, International PolioPlus Committee chair. “No matter the political party in charge, the Rotarians are known and respected.”
This year, the pledging of funds wasn’t the only priority. Working with our Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners, the advocates had the ambitious goal of getting a commitment to polio eradication from the world’s most powerful nations. The advocacy advisers saw two unprecedented political victories when both the health ministers and leaders of the Group of 20, an informal bloc of countries accounting for 85 percent of the global economy, committed to strive to finish our work and end the disease.
Rotary’s message about ending polio is reaching the key decision-makers. 

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