TORONTO, ONTARIO -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on Saturday, October 18, 2014, today received the Rotary Foundation Polio Eradication Champion Award, for his longstanding support and continued leadership in efforts to eliminate polio around the world. The Prime Minister accepted the award at a ceremony hosted by the Rotary Zones 24 & 32 Institute ( Rotary leaders of Canada and northern United States) , at the Royal York Hotel, in Toronto, it was announced today by Brian Thompson, Rotary International District 7070 Governor  of the Rotary Clubs in southern Ontario.
The Polio Eradication Champion Award is the highest honour the Rotary Foundation presents to heads of state, health agency leaders and others who have made significant contributions to the global polio eradication effort. It was given to the Prime Minister by Past President of Rotary International, and member of the Rotary Club of Trenton, Ontario, Wilf Wilkinson, and by the President Elect of Rotary International ‘Ravi’ Ravindran. The Rotary Foundation is an international organization that helps fund humanitarian activities, from local service projects to global initiatives. It undertakes worldwide Rotary campaigns such as eradicating polio and promoting peace. Rotarians and friends of Rotary support the Foundation’s work through voluntary contributions.
The Government of Canada has been at the forefront of the fight against polio. Since 2006, Canada has disbursed significant funds to eradicate polio, namely through support to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), to which Canada is one of the top donors. At the Global Vaccine Summit in April 2013, Canada reconfirmed its commitment to polio eradication and pledged funds over six years to support the GPEI’s 2013-2018 Endgame Strategic Plan which sets out a roadmap to eradicate polio by 2018.
Quick Facts
Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disease that mainly affects children under the age of five. It can cause irreversible paralysis and sometimes leads to death.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is a public-private partnership spearheaded by the World Health Organization to eradicate polio worldwide. The GPEI also supports the delivery of vital routine health interventions, including immunizations, vitamin A and zinc supplements, and the distribution of antimalarial bed nets. Canada’s contributions to eradicate polio are now part of its commitment to promote maternal, newborn and child health, with its funding coming from the 2010-2015 Muskoka Initiative and Canada’s Forward Strategy Saving Every Woman Every Child (2015-2020).
In receiving the Rotary Foundation’s Polio Eradication Champion Award, Prime Minister Harper joins a roster of distinguished leaders, including the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, former Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Since 1988, Canada and its partners have supported the immunization of hundreds of millions of children, which has led to the eradication of the polio virus from almost every country on earth. Canada is committed to supporting the GPEI to realize its goal of a world free from polio by 2018.
“I am honoured to receive this prestigious award that recognizes the significant efforts and contributions that our Government continues to make towards eradicating polio. We will continue to work with our partners to help put an end to this devastating childhood disease which can be prevented with a simple vaccine.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Rotary brings together a global network of volunteers who dedicate their time and talent to tackle the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members from 200 countries and geographical regions. Their work impacts lives both at the local and international levels, from helping families in need, right here in southern Ontario, to working toward a polio-free world.
Rotarians are neighbors, friends, and community leaders who come together to create positive, lasting change in our communities and around the world.  With differing occupations, cultures, and countries, Rotarians are given a unique perspective. Their shared passion for service helps Rotarians accomplish the remarkable.
Left to Right: ‘Ravi” Ravindran, Rotary International President Elect; Prime Minister Steven Harper; and Wilf Wilkinson, Past Rotary International President
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