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

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. “


2 Responses to “8th National Minister of Health signs ball in Cotonou, Benin”

  1. Michael Schimmel Says:

    Hello could I quote some of the material from this blog if I reference you with a link back to your site?

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