Rotary’s polio campaign prominent at Commonwealth Summit
Rotary’s polio campaign prominent at Commonwealth Summit

Commonwealth leaders have lent their support in the fight against polio, with Rotary taking a prominent role at the recent seven-day summit in London.

53 Heads of State, Foreign Ministers, Ambassadors and High Commissioners, were joined by 5,000 delegates from across the world for the event.

In a 54-point communiqué issued following the summit, the Commonwealth leaders lent their support to the Rotary-backed fight towards the worldwide eradication of polio.

They emphasised their continued support to the work of the World Health Organisation to tackle a wide range of serious health challenges, including polio.

“The burden (of these challenges) has a significant socio-economic impact on individuals and families, and increases national health expenditure throughout the Commonwealth,” said the communiqué.

During a plenary session at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster, there were speeches from Prime Minister, Theresa May; Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Scotland; Bill Gates; and the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, when Rotary was praised for leading on polio eradication and volunteering across the world to vaccinate children.

Besides the high-powered showpiece meeting of the Commonwealth Summit, Rotary was involved in a number of fringe events.

Judith Diment, above second left, who is Rotary’s representative to the Commonwealth, spoke at a People’s Forum about polio during a session on universal health coverage.


“Everywhere I have been, people have commented on all the
good work done by Rotary.”


Dr Solaiman Juman, chairman of the Commonwealth Health Professionals’ Alliance, added his voice of appreciation to Rotary for its work on polio eradication.

Judith, who is a member of the Rotary Club of Windsor St George in Berkshire, also took part in a panel discussion for the launch of the Commonwealth Digital Health Centre.

20 Rotarians, along with Tom Silverson, Chair of Rotaract in Great Britain & Ireland, supported the Youth Forum delegates’ activity day, run in conjunction with the National Citizens Service, to discuss issues such as poverty, climate change and gender equality. Rotary International sponsored lunch for the delegates.

Rotarian mentor Shirley-Pat Chamberlain from Canada and four mentees who participated in the pilot of the Commonwealth Women’s Mentoring Scheme attended the Youth Forum, and was a facilitator for one of the sessions.

Prince Harry launched the Youth Forum, and Shirley-Pat later met him, Prince Charles and Prince William.

One of the Rotary mentees, Winnie Chepkemoi Mutai from Nairobi, spoke about the Commonwealth Mentoring Scheme at the Youth Forum and how it had helped her gain a position with a UN agency in Nairobi.

This impressed a Cabinet Office staff member who asked Winnie to extend her stay to speak to the African Heads of State.

Lord Powell, President of the Royal Commonwealth Society, remarked: “Rotary has made its mark at the summit. Everywhere I have been, people have commented on all the good work done by Rotary around the world.”

Judith Diment, who attended a number of key events and meetings during the week, pointed out how the values of the Commonwealth of Nations - peacebuilding, human rights, climate change, the environment, education and universal health coverage, mirror those of the United Nations and the six areas of focus of Rotary.

She said: “Rotary is an accredited Commonwealth organisation and I work on behalf of Rotary International with the Commonwealth Secretariat and other Commonwealth organisations and governments in three areas: polio eradication, modern slavery and mentoring young women.

“These issues were all on the agenda of the Commonwealth Summit and supported in the summit communiqué.”

By Dave King

 

Published: Wednesday 2nd May 2018

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