Rotary International President Jennifer Jones appeared on the main stage at the star-studded Global Citizen Festival on 24 September to highlight Rotary’s commitment to eradicating polio and announce an additional US$150 million pledge toward that end.
Jones, who spoke in front of 60,000 people in New York City and tens of thousands more online and on TV, noted the state of emergency that the governor of New York state recently declared to combat a resurgence of polio in the region.
Jones stressed that polio is preventable through vaccines and that wild poliovirus is endemic in only two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although female vaccinators are critical to building relationships with mothers and reaching children in these areas, they sometimes can face harassment or even attacks.
In Pakistan, “frontline female health workers put themselves at risk every day,” Jones said. “They are committed, even with obstacles, to reaching every last child with polio vaccines.” The vaccination program works with the local police and government to ensure the safety of these health workers.