Friday, September 28, 2012

Unity for a Polio-Free World


Global Luminaries Unite to Issue Urgent Call for a Polio-Free World
New and Existing Donors Underscore Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to End Polio Forever

UNITED NATIONS, 27 September 2012 – In a display of solidarity, leaders from around the world today vowed to capitalize on progress achieved this year and to step up the fight to eradicate polio. Heads of state from Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan stood alongside donor government officials and new donors from the public and private sector to outline what is needed to stamp out this disease forever: long-term commitment of resources, applying innovative best practices, and continued leadership and accountability at all levels of government in the endemic countries.

“This decisive moment is a matter of health and justice. Every child should have the right to start life with equal protection from this disease. That’s why I have made eradicating polio a top priority for my second term as Secretary-General,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Polio is a vaccine-preventable disease that is more than 99 percent eliminated from the world. Today, there are the fewest number of polio cases in the fewest districts in the fewest countries than at any time in history. In 1988, when the global fight against polio began, there were 125 countries where polio raged. Today, there are only three: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. India, long-regarded as the nation facing the greatest challenges to eradication, has been polio-free for more than 18 months.

“The evidence is clear: if we all do our part, we can and will end this disease. But we must act quickly and give ourselves the very best chance to succeed,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the leading donors to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). “When we defeat polio, it will motivate us to aim for other great health and development milestones.”

Earlier this year, at the World Health Assembly, 194 member states declared the completion of polio eradication to be a “programmatic emergency for global public health.” In order to look beyond short-term challenges, however, GPEI is developing a long-term roadmap for ending polio. The strategy also will ensure that the legacy of investments in polio supports other vaccine-preventable disease goals.

“Failure to eradicate polio is unforgiveable, forever. Failure is not an option. No single one of us can bring this long, hard drive over the last hurdle. But together we can,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization.

Ending polio is an important early milestone in the Decade of Vaccines, a global vision and commitment to reach all children with the vaccines they need. A polio-free world also will lay the foundation for a better public health system that provides critical health services for children in the poorest and most inaccessible places.

Together we can make history by eradicating polio – thanks mostly to the heroes in the field who risk their lives, every day, to deliver vaccines to children in some of the most dangerous parts of the world,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director.

The high-level event, “Our Commitment to the Next Generation: The Legacy of a Polio-free World,” featured opening remarks from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and was moderated by Senator Timothy E. Wirth, president of the UN Foundation.

Speakers included leaders of the three polio-endemic countries: President Hamid Karzai, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; President Goodluck Jonathan, Federal Republic of Nigeria; and President Asif Ali Zardari, Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Earlier this year, these leaders launched national emergency plans to stop transmission of polio in their countries. 

“Governments need to step up and honor their commitments to polio eradication if we are to achieve a polio-free world,” said Wilfrid J. Wilkinson, Chair of Rotary Foundation Trustees. “We must seize the advantage by acting immediately, or risk breaking our pledge to the world’s children.” Rotary International, which already has contributed US$1.2 billion to polio eradication, announced additional funding of $75 million over three years to GPEI.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard reinforced Australia’s commitment and called on the Commonwealth to do its part. Last October, Australia committed $50M during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Also speaking was Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services for the United States. The United States has been the leading donor to the GPEI and provides technical support through the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

“We have been given the unique opportunity to end polio and provide a lasting legacy for the world’s children,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC. “Together we must strive to achieve this important global milestone.”

The Islamic Development Bank, a new donor to the polio eradication effort, announced a three-year $227 million financing package to Pakistan which will cover the majority of the country’s polio vaccination campaign costs. It also announced a $3 million grant for polio eradication activities in Afghanistan.

Additional leaders pledged new and continued commitment to polio eradication. These included:
  • H.E. Julian Fantino, Minister, International Cooperation, Canada, who announced an initiative to engage civil society to match funds to GPEI;   
  • H.E. Koichiro Gemba, Minister, Foreign Affairs, Japan;
  • Rt. Hon. Alan Duncan, Minister of State, International Development, United Kingdom, whose government committed an additional £25M to polio eradication in 2012; 
  • Mr. Sandro Rosell, President, Football Club Barcelona (FCB) and FCB Foundation, who announced the club’s engagement on the polio issue in collaboration with the Gates Foundation and Etisalat, the largest telecomm operator in the Middle East;
  • Ms. Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan’s Goodwill Ambassador on Polio Eradication. 
On 29 September, the Global Poverty Project, a campaign group aimed at ending extreme poverty, will host the Global Citizen Festival, a concert bringing together more than 60,000 people in New York’s Central Park with the aim of inspiring a global movement to voice support for eradicating polio and ending extreme poverty.

Notes for editors:  

The UN High Level event will be live-streamed, 12:30-1:30 p.m. EDT, on

Photos and video of the event will be available at and

About GPEI
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), launched in 1988, is spearheaded by national governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF, and supported by key partners including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Since its launch, the incidence of polio has been reduced by more than 99 percent. In 1988, more than 350,000 children were paralyzed each year in more than 125 endemic countries. In 2012, 145 new cases have been reported, and only three countries remain endemic: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.


For more information:

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:, +1 206 709 3400
Rotary International: Petina Dixon-Jenkins., +1 847 866 3054
UNICEF: Christian Moen., +1 212 326 7516 or mobile +1 917 299 1041
US CDC: Alan Janssen., +1 404 639 8517
WHO: Sona Bari., +41 22 791 1476 or mobile +41 79 475 5511

Rotary commits to end polio

Press Release

Funding announcement to come during special UN General Assembly session to rally support for global eradication of crippling childhood disease

EVANSTON, Ill., September 27, 2012-- Rotary International ( plans to contribute US $75 million over three years to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative ( as part of a worldwide effort to close a $945 million funding gap that threatens to derail the 24 year-old global health effort, even as new polio cases are at an all-time low.

Rotary, which already has contributed more than $1.2 billion to stop this crippling childhood disease, will announce its new funding commitment in New York City on Sept. 27 during a special side-event on polio eradication convened by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly.

Secretary-General Ban, who has made polio eradication a top priority of his second term, is expected to issue a strong call urging UN member states to ramp up their support for the polio eradication initiative, launched in 1988 by Rotary, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The partnership now includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations Foundation.

The New York event will include two panel sessions with remarks by Wilf Wilkinson, chair of The Rotary Foundation; Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation; and top leaders and heads of state from the remaining polio-endemic countries and key donor countries.  The wild poliovirus is now endemic only to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria, although other countries remain at risk for re-established cases imported from the endemics.

“It is imperative that governments step up and honor their commitments to polio eradication if we are to achieve our goal of a polio-free world,” said Wilkinson. “We are at a true tipping point, with success never closer than it is right now. We must seize the advantage by acting immediately, or risk breaking our pledge to the world’s children.”

The urgency at the UN follows action taken in May by the World Health Assembly, which declared polio eradication to be a “programmatic emergency for global public health.” Although new polio cases are at an all-time low – fewer than 140 worldwide so far this year – the $945 million shortfall has already affected several scheduled immunization activities in polio-affected countries and could derail the entire program unless the gap is bridged. If eradication fails and polio rebounds, up to 200,000 children a year could be paralyzed.

Polio cases have plummeted by more than 99 percent since 1988, when the disease infected about 350,000 children a year. Fewer than 700 new cases were reported in 2011. Rotary and its partners have reached more than 2.5 billion children with the oral polio vaccine, preventing more than five million cases of paralysis and hundreds of thousands of pediatric deaths.

Rotary’s chief responsibilities in the initiative are fundraising and advocacy, a role of increasing importance as the end game draws near. In early September, Rotary launched a new, interactive website intended to educate, activate and inspire visitors to actively support the polio eradication effort. Visitors are encouraged to sign a petition calling for world leaders to commit additional resources to close the funding gap. The e-signatures will be presented to Secretary-General Ban in New York. Site visitors can also estimate the potential dollar value they can generate by sharing the polio eradication message through social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Earlier this year, Rotary raised $228 million in new money for polio eradication in response to a $355 million challenge grant from the Gates Foundation, which promptly contributed an additional $50 million in recognition of Rotary’s commitment.

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of Rotary International.

CONTACT:  Wayne Hearn at (847) 866-3386

Rotary ( is a global humanitarian organization with more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary members are men and women who are business, professional and community leaders with a shared commitment to make the world a better place through humanitarian service. To access broadcast quality video footage and still images of Rotary members immunizing children against polio available go to: Media Center ( 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Uganda doctors get pay rise


Government is in full agreement with Parliament on the urgent need to improve the health care in the country. Indeed we have made a number of interventions over the years in terms of health infrastructure development, improving drug supply and immunization.

Over the last two weeks the discussion between Parliament and the Executive has been on the additional Ushs 39.2 billion to already Ushs800 billion allocated to the health sector to address the human resource challenge to make these health centre IIIs and IVs functional all over the country.

Government has assessed the recruitment requirements of the ministry and allocated Ushs 49.5 billion to cater for this requirement.

Effective this financial year, government has availed funds to embark on the recruitment of over 6,172 health workers at health centre IIIs and health centre IVs.

Ushs6.5 billion is immediately available to kick start the process of recruitment and the balance of Ushs43 billion will be provided within one month after the Ministry of Health has submitted a work plan for this process to the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. The key personnel to be recruited will include medical doctors, nurses, midwives and other support staff.

Medical doctors working in health centre IVs will have their salaries and allowances increased from Ushs 1.2million to Ushs 2.5million effective October 2012. This will be in fulfillment of government plans to ensure consolidation of immunization, tackle maternal health effectively and deal with HIV/AIDS as well as the general health care of Ugandans.

The government believes that when we successfully address immunization, hygiene, safe water, nutrition and change our life styles, we can eliminate over 90% of all the illnesses. We also believe that a healthy population is a wealthy nation.

We are committed to implementing the health master plan that will achieve the millennium development goals within the available resource envelope but also a plan that emphasizes accountability for every dollar invested in health.



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Can HIV Vaccine have impact with many prevention tools?

By Esther Nakkazi
A vaccine is still the best shot in the arm for the world’s AIDS epidemic even in the face of progressive combination prevention interventions now available in the research arena, scientists say.
Since 2009, different biomedical HIV prevention tools have been developed like male circumcision, prevention-of-mother-to-child transmission, microbicides, treatment as prevention and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), which are making an impact on HIV control.

“Advances in HIV prevention strategies, including HIV vaccine are transforming the field,” said Dan Barouch, a professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and chair of AIDS vaccine 2012.
In a world where these non-vaccine HIV prevention interventions are combined and steadily scaled up, is an AIDS vaccine still relevant to end the AIDS pandemic in the world?

Vaccines development takes many years even when science gives a proof of concept and a product early, actual design and implementation may not. Meanwhile, new HIV prevention strategies could produce important reductions in the 2.5 million HIV infections occurring each year.

“Depending on the timing and only in a specific context- for control, elimination and eradication of the AIDS epidemic will the vaccine be relevant and make an impact” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the 2012 AIDS vaccine conference in Boston, USA.

The AIDS vaccine conference, the world’s only exclusive meeting dedicated to exclusively to HIV vaccine research was held from 9-12 September at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
It was attended by more than 1,100 researchers, funders and policy makers with more than 440 presentations on the latest in AIDS vaccine research, development and testing.

As more interventions are discovered, the HIV vaccine faces a challenge. We should support the field as it goes forward and I am glad that this conversation has now started said Dr. Hannah Kibuuka the Director of Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP) in Uganda.

According to Dr. Fauci, the combination of non-vaccine prevention modalities available today may be able to initially control HIV infection rates in populations but maintenance of this control will require a vaccine.

Just as elimination and eradication of HIV will require an AIDS vaccine and maintenance of these is critical, scientists attending the AIDS vaccine conference heard. For instance many epidemic infectious diseases like yellow fever and malaria have been brought under control using vectors but effective maintenance of this control would require a vaccine.

Researchers also know that the exciting times of the new prevention non-vaccine interventions tools present a daring time for AIDS vaccine clinical trials with benefits and challenges.
It is anticipated that the AIDS vaccine trials will be more complicated- as if they have not been already- since ethically, researchers have to make available the different prevention tools to the study volunteers.

In resource-limited settings, lack of funds; no regulatory framework, limited capacity by ethical committees will be a daunting task to make accessible these preventive interventions to AIDS vaccine study participants. However, on the flip side there are also benefits.

“The good news is that we are in a new arena and vaccine efficacy does not necessarily need to be 95 percent,” said Fauci, meaning that prevention interventions will play a role in control so the effectiveness of the vaccine can be lower.

In the face of the challenge, already advancements in the way things are done around the AIDS vaccine work have changed with more partnerships and collaborations between researchers, policy makers and advocates working on vaccine trials.

For instance, the 2014 AIDS vaccine conference will address all the combined prevention strategies including vaccines. Previously a microbicide conference, male circumcision etc conference would be held.

“We now know more about the challenges and how the different modes of prevention can be used to answer more questions. We have all these people coming together but funding could also be an issue,” said Kay Marshall the Director of Communications, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)

“There are so many developments in bio-medial prevention. The science has pushed us to think about it. People are beginning to think about the similarities and differences more,” says Catherine Hankins the deputy director, Science at the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (aighd).