May 12 2014
WASHINGTON – Rotary International recognized U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) as a Polio Eradication Champion for his leadership and support to rid the world of polio.
“Only three countries -Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria have never stopped transmission of polio. We would not be so close to achieving a polio free world without the staunch commitment of Congressional leaders like Senator Boozman as champions in supporting this noble cause,” John Germ, Vice-Chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee said.
“I appreciate this recognition and am humbled by this honor from Rotary which is a leading advocate and at the forefront of fighting this disease worldwide. Its efforts are truly making a difference, but there is still work that needs to be done. I’m committed to providing the resources needed to eliminate this disease across the globe,” Boozman said.
The U.S. eradicated polio more than 30 years ago. There is a vaccine to prevent this disease, however it’s a global problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared this week that the spread of the polio virus constituted a “public health emergency of international concern” and deserves a “coordinated international response.”
We have the vaccine to stop polio in its tracks and a global push is underway to eliminate the disease. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative implemented a five year strategic plan to eradicate polio by 2018. Rotary International along with the Shot@Life Campaign, the Gates Foundation and many others are making an impact. Efforts to fight polio have reduced cases by 99 percent since 1988, but clearly more needs to be done.
Polio is a very serious concern in Pakistan but vaccinations against the disease in the country are coming under attack and it has spread to nearby Afghanistan. Additionally, an outbreak in conflict-ridden Syria has effected Iraq and threatens to spread across the Middle East. Children worldwide deserve access to this vaccine that can save their lives and Boozman looks forward to continuing efforts by the U.S. government, NGO’s, the private sector, and the international community to ensure this happens.
Boozman’s Deputy Chief of Staff attended the Rotary ceremony in his absence.