Archive for April, 2010

All aboard the polio eradication initiative in Ghana …

April 29, 2010

Eradication of polio will be the first great humanitarian and global health victory of the 21st century. Only once before has a disease ever been eradicated – that was smallpox in 1979 . Rotary and its global partners are determined to make this dream a reality, especially to leave a legacy for Nelson Mandela in 2010. In Accra Ghana, the KPOA team was ready and committed to put their full weight behind the eradication initiative in the wake of the upcoming NIDs.

The arrival of the “Kick Polio Out of Africa” football in Accra, Ghana was timely as it coincided with the ongoing second round synchronized National Immunization Days in all the 10 regions of the country commencing April 24. This had a positive impact to mobilise support and create awareness around the campaign.

The “Kick Polio Out of Africa” ball was received and signed on behalf of the Head of State and the people of Ghana by His Excellency Mr. John Dramani Mahama, the Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana (above). H.E Mr John Dramani Mahama was the guest of honour at the ceremony. With him is the Deputy Minister for Health – Mr. Rojo Mettle Nunoo. “It was an impressive ceremony” writes NPPC Chair Winfred Mensah.

Officials from the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and Rotarians in Ghana welcomed the “Kick Polio Out of Africa” ball at La General Hospital , La- Accra on Saturday,  April 24 – the second dayof implementation of the 2nd Round NIDs in Ghana. Also at the ceremony was the UNICEF Representative in Ghana, Dr. Yasmine Hague photographed below with Winfred Mensah,  National PolioPlus Committee Chair for Ghana.

Many mothers brought infants for immunisation and His Excellency Mr John Dramani Mahama willingly assisted in the vaccination process.

Polio eradication is laying out out an extraordinary blueprint. Never before has there been such a large-scale public health effort. One of the challenges is getting into highly inaccessible areas – but volunteer workers are courageous in their efforts, making sure they get the job done. Some photographs below from recent NIDs …










Next stop: Conakry, Guinea …


One-of-a-kind football lands in Togo …

April 27, 2010

After leaving Benin the ball travelled to Lomé – the capital and largest city of Togo – located on the Gulf of Guinea. Lomé is the country’s administrative and industrial center and its chief port.

On April 20 the footbball was delivered into the safe hands of NPPC Chair Germain Tomegah who made the most of its early arrival to present the ball to the Rotary Club of Lomé , where four Presidents had gathered to receive this historic one-of-a-kind ball.

At an impressive ceremony on April 21 held at the Offices of the Senior Minister, Minister of Health – in presence of partners and Cadres – Minister Mr Komlan Malley (below) signed the ball under the watchful eye of NPPC Chair Germain Tomegah.

The Minister declared his Government’s engagement to Kick Polio out of Togo, and Africa with the help of his Department and the invaluable support of the Partners in the initiative. He recalled the efforts of his Government to translate the engagement in the past by organising multiple NIDs and called on the population to ensure that each child was vaccinated in the NIDs that were to start in a few days.

NPPC Chair Germain Tomegah retraced the role of Rotary and reiterated the priority commitment of Rotarians to End Polio Now and forever with the help of its global partners.

Above: No child ever again … At a primary school in Togo these children raise their hands in a gesture of enthusiastic support to “Kick Polio Out of Africa” and the world. When polio is eradicated, no child anywhere, ever gain, will suffer polio’s cruel effects.

With 10 polio-affected countries still to go on its epic trans-Africa journey, the football has taken on a new allure as the black spaces are being used for the signing.

Next stop: Accra – Ghana.

Touchdown of football in Ghana boosts next massive immunisation rounds in 19 West and Central African countries

April 22, 2010

After passing the half-way mark of its journey in Benin,  the ball will be presented to the health and sports ministers and to football fans in Accra, 22-25 April, to mobilize the public for the next massive immunization rounds on 24-27 April targeting 85 million children in 19 West and Central African countries. Former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, who has recorded PSAs in support of the West African immunization campaign, is tentatively scheduled to attend the ceremony.

As countries across West and Central Africa prepare for cross-border synchronized campaigns it is important to note that as of 13 April, Nigeria – the epicentre of polio in Africa – reported only one case of polio in 2010, compared to 171 at the same time last year. Progress to date was partly because of technical improvements, but also because of firm support from the political and religious leaders of Northern Nigeria. This is a remarkable achievement.

Watch the videos below to see how Polio immunization impacts Africa:

Another collection of Polio related videos on Worldnews:

Kick Polio Out of Africa from BibAlex, Alexandria on June 12, 2010

April 19, 2010

If you are travelling out of Africa to the RI Convention in Montreal, make sure to go via Cairo from June 10 – 12  to witness the historic exit of the KPOA soccer ball from the continent of Africa at amazing events planned in both Cairo and Alexandria.  

Bibliotek Alexandria (BibAlex) above, is the venue for the final event. The dome has an uncanny resemblance to a soccer ball. We are told that the “Eye of Horus” will be observing acivities.

Coordinator of these final events, which come with considerable responsibility,  is Ayoub Ayoub who advises that he “has already assembled and met with the active Bibliotheca Alexandrina team. They will cooperate with me to get the job done as best as we can”.  As the EPN lighting coordinator in Cairo and incoming public image resource group zone coordinator, Ayoub has the skills and experience to facilitate the coordination of these events.

Above: IPDG Assem, A.Razek,  Dr.Halim, Dr.Layla,(BibAlex), M.Mohsen (R) and myslef met to hammer out the details of June 12, 2010 KICK POLIO OUT OF AFRICA event from BibAlex. “I am sure that it will be the culmination of this year’s EPN Public Image campaign in this part of the world, highlighting RI’s vital role in polio eradcation”. We wish them luck.

8th National Minister of Health signs ball in Cotonou, Benin

April 18, 2010

Benin is a small West African country located next to Nigeria where more than a third of the population lives below the poverty line, 65% of the population is illiterate, and the median age is 17. On the positive side,  people from all walks of life are dedicated and committed to eradicating Polio in Benin.  The KPOA ball was the catalyst to bring all parties together in the run up to the massive polio immunisation campaign starting on April 24 to immunise children under the age of 5. The bilingual banner above, which will accompany the ball on its final 11 stops, will be used to promote the future events.

Above: At the press conference held in the World Health Organisation Conference room on April 15,  L-R: Unicef Deputy Rep Isabelle Bardem, WHO Representaive Dr Akpa Rafael Gbary, Minister of Health Prof I Takpara (signing the ball) and Benin NPPC Chair Ashok Michandani.

National PolioPlus Committee Chair and KPOA coordinator Ashok Mirchandani writes: “At this session I gave  an address on the history of PolioPlus and that of the Ball, Dr Raphael Akpa Gbary, WHO Representative, who represented all the UN agencies, gave a speech on the technicalities of the Polio Eradication Programme, and the Health Minister, who represented the Benin Government and its President Dr Yayi Boni, thanked the partners for their efforts. He promised that Polio would be kicked out of Africa, as planned! He then signed the ball”.

To the right is a “family” photo – of Ministers and members of WHO, UNICEF and Rotary with polio victim Rotarian Albertine Vignon, director of Benin’s social services.

Zeynab Abib(below) also inaugurated her THIS CLOSE poster in English, French and one bilingual one of 1.5 x 1.8 Metres for the mass media who had filled up the conference room where the ceremony was held. Rotary Assistant Governors, Presidents of Clubs, Governor Nominee and members too came in numbers to celebrate the event.

The highlight for Zeynab in her singing career was winning the KORA award at Sun City, South Africa by popular choice. Her engagement for social causes nurtured by her association with Rotary led to her accepting the UNICEF Ambassadorship for the Children of Benin and Africa. She has been lending her voice to the polio eradication campaign and childhood vaccination with her song “Sauvons la vie de nos enfants” (Let’s save the life of our children) and participation in many local social mobilization events.

After a cocktail function the invitees dispersed and went to another location for an event escorted by the Motorcycle Taxi riders of Cotonou, seen below donning their PolioPlus uniforms prior to the rally.

On April 16 the ball visited the RC Cotonou Lagune, the RC Cotonou Airport and Abomey Calavi and then ended up in RC Cotonou Centre, which also meets the same day. A lot of signatures were put in a note book that is to accompany the ball. As Senegal would not be receiving the ball,  the President of RC Dakar Millennium, presently in Cotonou, signed on behalf of his country.

The Benin event ended on Saturday afternoon April 16 with four junior teams (below) playing two matches at the newly carpeted Rene Pleven Stadium in front of Rotarians, Unicef staff, National coaches and even two polio well wishers and officials.

When the match drew to a close the ball went  off to the Capital, Porto Novo where it was presented to the RC Porto Novo. This marked the end of  its journey to Benin. The ball will reach Togo on Monday afternoon, April 19.

Benin marks the half-way point in this campaign. NPCC chair Ashok Mirchandani provides this insightful evaluation: “I am amazed at the immense support and the recognition of the Role of Rotary in Polio Eradication that has been generated these last few years from all the Governments and our partners WHO, UNICEF and CDC – plus other supporting agencies. This was highlighted in the enthusiasm and active part they have played alsongside, in the success of the travels of the ball and in mobilising public opinion by citing the bonded cooperation in a joint effort to eradicate Polio. A far cry from the days where they claimed to be the only protagonists. The ball has given us an exceptional occasion to further our information campaign and advocacy through an interested and intense media response, besides inciting clubs to contribute to the Gates Challenge! The commitment to eradication has become more pronounced with the advent of the ball. Every child should have able feet to play football and this is possible only if polio is eradicated. A travelling ball symbolises that dynamic vision! Thank you. “

With just one polio case in 2010 – Nigeria welcomes symbolic football

April 17, 2010

The symbolic KPOA football received a rousing welcome when it touched down In Abuja, Nigeria on 10 April into the safe hands of KPOA coordinator – District Governor Kazeem Mustapha – just in time to mobilize public support for the next massive immunization rounds on 24-27 April targeting 85 million children in 19 West and Central African countries.

So why Abuja? In February 2009 the governors of the 36 states collectively signed the ‘Abuja Commitments to Polio Eradication’, public committing to provide the necessary leadership to eradicate polio. Mechanisms have been put in place to monitor implementation of the ‘Abuja Commitments’ which are clearly working.

“Polio cases in Nigeria are at an all-time low, with the country seeing just one case in 2010, and now is the time to make sure we sustain this progress. The arrival of the ‘Kick Polio Out of Africa’ ball is an opportunity for us to not only recognize Nigeria’s progress, but also to renew our dedication to seeing the end of this disease in Africa, and worldwide,” said Busuyi Onabulu, who chairs Rotary’s PolioPlus Committee in Nigeria. “The next national immunization days begin 24 April. The ball therefore arrives in Nigeria at a very opportune time.”

Above: The ball was signed by Minister of State for Health Alhaji Suleiman Bello in his first official assignment at a ceremony at the National Stadium Press Centre in Abuja. In the middle is the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, while DG Kazeem Mustapha enjoys the moment. Also attending were the new Emir of Dass Usman Bilyaminu, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Health Linus Awute, WHO representative Dr Muhammad Pate, and other government officials and dignitaries.

Successful immunization campaigns now have Nigeria on the cusp of making history. Only one case of polio whas been reported this year.

Left:  Holding the KPOA ball – a symbol of hope for a polio-free Nigeria –

Dr Mohammad Pate Chief Executive Officer NPHCDA; HRH Emir of Arugungu Alhaji Samaila Mohammad Chairman Northern Traditional Leader; DG Kazeem Mustapha in yellow apron; Busuyi Onabolu Chairman NNPPC; HRH Dr Halliru Yahaya Emir of Shonga and also the Chairman Governing Council NPHCDA.

The three-day programme from April 11 – 13 was jam packed with a series of events which included a cocktail party on Sunday – April 11 at the residence of Past RI President Jonathan Majiyagbe in Asokoro District, Abuja, a formal presentation of the ball to NPHCDA at the Traditional Leaders  Committee meeting on April 12 – an official reception on behalf of the Government of Nigeria, NPHCDA at its headquarters in Abuja.  On the final day – a press conference and photo opportunity was held at the National Stadium Press Centre where the ball was presented to the Hon. Ministers of Health and Sports. A novelty match followed.

Here are some photographs to capture the colourful events …


Dr. Halliru Yahaya,  HRH Emir of Shonga throwing the ball to Busuyi Onabolu …
HRH Emir of Dass and the representative of the Northern Traditional Leaders,  kicked the ball.
Clearly, all have their eye on the ball!
Below – from left to right:  Representative of the Federal Ministry of Health; Centre – Yaw Osai Appiah, 1st Secretary/Vice Consul Ghana High Commission in Nigeria in Chelsea FC Blue T-shirt; third person is Dr Kazeem Mustapha, District Governor 9125 and the Coordinator KPOA.
Thanks to our sponsors – DHL!

Next stop – Cotonou, Benin.

The Rotary Foundation’s Africa Regional PolioPlus Committee supports KPOA event in Douala, Cameroun …

April 15, 2010

The visit of the KPOA soccer ball to Douala, Cameroun on Thursday, April 8 dovetailed well with a meeting of the representatives of The Rotary Foundation’s Africa Regional PolioPlus Committee (ARPPC).

Attending were representatives from Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin, Cameroun, Ethiopia, Cote D’Ivoire, and Nigeria, the National PolioPlus Committee chair from Chad, The Rotary Foundation’s PolioPlus Division Manager from Evanston, local Rotarians, Rotaractors and media. They all gathered together to attend and support the KPOA event at Hotel Sawa in Douala, Cameroun. 

Above From L-R: ARPPC member and National PolioPlus Committee Chair Ethiopia – Nahu-Senaye Araya, Carol Pandak – Manager: Division PolioPlus,  Marie-Irene Richmond, National PolioPlus Committee chair -Cote D’Ivoire and member ARPPC, the Minister of Health, Jean Richard, Dr. Charlotte Faty-Ndiaye, WHO Representative – Cameroun, Ambroise Tshimbalanga Kasongo – ARPPC Chair and National PolioPlus Committee Chair -Democratic Republic of Congo, Busuyi Onabolu, National PolioPlus committee Chair, Nigeria and ARPPC member, andAhmat Ali Hisseine, National PolioPlus Committee Chair – Chad.

Holding the ball proudly is PDG Jean Richard Bieleu, National Polio-Plus Committee Chair, Cameroun and Africa Regional PolioPlus Committee Member and ARPPC member.

There was great festivity as the ball arrived at Hotel Sawa accompanied by local traditional dancers and music.  The ball was received by PDG Jean Richard Bieleu.  The event was attended by three Ministers, including the Minister of Health and Minister of Communications, and representatives from WHO and UNICEF. A most enjoyable reception for attendees followed.


The Minister of Health signs the ball under the watchful eye of NPPC Chair Jean Richard Bieleu.

Below: Members of the African Regional Polio-Plus Committee with DHL.

After the media event, a colourful caravan of DHL vehicles, taxis, motorbikes, and a vehicle displaying the End Polio Now logo wended its way through town.

An enthusiastic participant haled constantly through a loud speaker from one of the vehicles –

‘End Polio Now’ in Africa and Cameroun!  The message was loud and clear!

The activities concluded with a soccer game between two local teams photographed below with representatives of The Rotary Foundation’s Africa Regional PolioPlus Committee (ARPPC).

Adding a lighter moment, Carol Pandak: PolioPlus Manager Evanston and Marie-Irene Richmond had fun with the ceremonial ball, to the amusement of Ashock Mirchandani.

Next stop: Abuja, Nigeria

Under 16 soccer players highlight Rotary’s polio eradication efforts in CAR

April 15, 2010

The ball reached Bangui, Central African Republic on Friday morning, April 2 in good time for an exciting ceremony organised at a 20,000 seater sports stadium in Bangui. This took place in the VIP lounge of the Bangui Football Stadium. Key authorities attending included the President of the National Assembly – Mr. Celestin Leroy Gaombalet – an Honorary Member of the RC of Bangui Siriri – who is photographed signing the ball, three cabinet members including the Minister of Public Health, the Minister of Youth and Sports and the Minister of National Education.  Also attending the event were presidents of various football clubs, as well as the local DHL Director.

President-elect of the Rotary Club of  Bangui-Siriri – Philippe  Makendebou writes:  “Two speeches and a briefing on the status of polio in the country were included in the programme. An exciting nail-biting football game followed between two rival football clubs, where team players under 16 years of age, provided an important link to the Kick Polio Out of Africa campaign and to the youth, the most vulnerable to the polio virus”.

The event was covered by the public TV, two radio stations and 9 private newspapers and was followed by an enjoyable reception.

After a particularly memorable visit the ball was whisked off to Douala, Cameroun by DHL.

Acclaimed African Musicians lend their voice to kick polio out of Africa

April 7, 2010

Congolese Band Staff Benda Bilili joins Rotary’s EndPolioNow campaign as goodwill ambassadors …

DOUALA/CAMEROON (Apr. 7, 2010) – In the lead-up to the World Cup in South Africa this summer, musicians across Africa are lending their voice for the final push to kick polio out of the continent. Leading the chorus in the fight against the crippling childhood disease are the shooting stars of world music: Staff Benda Bilili.

Staff Benda Bilili, which means “look beyond appearances” in Lingala, is a group of eight former street musicians from Kinshasa, whose debut album Très Très Fort , produced and distributed by the Belgian record company, Crammed Discs, has received international media acclaim and won the 2009 Womex Artist award. The core of the band consists of four singers, who are all polio survivors. Their signature song, “Polio”, speaks of the disease that drastically changed their lives, and urges parents to immunize their children.

Called “The Kings of the Congo” by the French newspaper La Libération, the band will launch its much anticipated Europe tour on 11 April in Dortmund, Germany. Later this year, French filmmakers Renaud Barret and Florent de la Tullaye will release a feature length documentary on Staff Benda Bilili and the making of their debut album.  

“Of course we’re happy to be part of the campaign. After all, we’re handicapped by polio, and we are the first group to sing about polio, so naturally we’re ready to help,” says band leader Ricky Likabu after being named Rotary polio goodwill ambassadors. “Our song ‘Polio’ is simply to implore parents to take their children to health clinics to be vaccinated, as the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends. Parents are responsible for their children, and they need to know how to avoid diseases.”

The announcement of Staff Benda Bilili’s appointment coincides with a regional polio summit in Douala (7-9 April) and the arrival of a football, signed by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and a growing number of notable “Kick polio out of Africa” advocates, on its 4-month journey through 22 polio-affected African countries to mobilize the public for the massive immunizations campaign in West and Central Africa this spring.

“I’m happy and thankful that Staff Benda Bilili teamed us with us to score that final goal. We are on the brink of eradicating this life-threatening, cruel disease, but as long as there is one case of polio, no African child will be safe,” says Ambroise Kasongo of Kinshasa, who chairs Rotary’s African Regional PolioPlus Committee. “Staff Benda’s beautiful Congolese rumba-rooted songs are overlaid with vibrant and wise lyrics. Being polio victims themselves, people will take their message to heart.”

In January, Nigerian folk musician Dan Maraya Jos, who has stirred the hearts of Nigerians with songs on a range of social issues for over four decades, was named Rotary’s goodwill ambassador for polio eradication in Nigeria. A custodian of Hausa culture and tradition, Jos has recorded three radio public service announcements in Hausa in a regional version of Rotary’s “We are this close to Ending Polio” campaign.

Of the total 735 polio cases in Africa in 2009, 388 cases were recorded in Nigeria, the last African country where polio is still endemic.

In neighboring Benin, pop singer and Unicef ambassador Zeynab Abib has been lending her voice to the polio eradication campaign and childhood vaccination with her song “Sauvons la vie de nos enfants” (Let’s save the life of our children) and participation in many local social mobilization events.

A total of 19 countries in West and Central Africa will participate in synchronized national immunization activities 24-27 April, targeting 85 million children under the age of five. The next immunization round in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where three polio cases were recorded last year, will start on May 1.

New KPOA Press Release…

April 7, 2010

The latest KPOA press release announces that the Congolese band ‘Staff Benda Billili’ and various other African musicians joined the campaign as polio goodwill ambassadors. For the English version please click here.

A French version will be available shortly – please check our ‘Press Information‘ section regularly for updates.