The Director of the Pan American Health Organization, Carissa F. Etienne, today presented the President of Rotary International, Barry Rassin with a recognition for the work that the institution has carried out in the Region of the Americas to achieve the elimination of polio and to maintain this achievement over the last 25 years.

Washington, DC, 4 April 2019 (OPS/OMS)- The Director of the Pan American Health Organization, Carissa F. Etienne, today presented the President of Rotary International, Barry Rassin with a recognition for the work that the institution has carried out in the Region of the Americas to achieve the elimination of polio and to maintain this achievement over the last 25 years.

This recognition was made during a meeting at the PAHO headquarters, during which the Director of PAHO and the President of Rotary International, discussed the possibility of identifying opportunities for future collaboration, particularly given the success of past joint work, including the elimination of polio.

“The support of Rotary International was vital to the Americas being able to achieve the elimination of polio”. Its contribution throughout the past 25 years has also been fundamental to maintaining the achievement. This effort and commitment is what PAHO is recognizing today with this plaque.”
Dr. Carissa F. Etienne

Dr Etienne with Barry Rassin of Rotary International

The last case of wild poliovirus in the Americas was reported in 1991 in Peru. The region was certified free from the disease in 1994, a status that continues to be maintained. This year marks 25 years since the Region received this certification, becoming the first in the world to do so.

Since the beginning of the 1980s, Rotary International has been a key partner for PAHO, both at the regional and country level, through the provision of funds that were used to implement vaccination campaigns including in the most remote parts of the Region. Rotary International continues to be a key partner in the Global Initiative for the Elimination of Poliomyelitis and continues to work towards the global eradication of this disease.

Currently, Rotarians are actively working in countries of the Region to maintain the elimination of this disease and have been part of regional meetings on poliomyelitis. They have also attended meetings of the Regional Technical Advisory Groups on vaccine-preventable diseases.

At the meeting between the Director of PAHO and the President of Rotary International, joint initiatives that were carried out at the country-level were evaluated, such as tuberculosis screening, perinatal care, and other vaccination campaigns. Possible lines of future cooperation were also discussed regarding plans to prevent cervical cancer.

rotary paho team

Also participating in this meeting:  Mary Beth Growney, Rotary Foundation Trustee; Peter R. Kyle, Dean of the Rotary International Representatives Network; Richard Glover, Governor of Rotarians in the Washington DC Region; and Jane Lawicki, International Relations Manager at Rotary International. Representing PAHO: Jarbas Barbosa, Deputy Director of PAHO; Anselm Hennis, Director of the Department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health; Andrés De Francisco, Director of the Department of Family, Health Promotion and Life Course; Alberto Kleiman, Director of the Department of External Relations, Alliances and Resource Mobilization; and Regina Campa, Advisor in Partnerships.