Rotary International has named Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) a "Polio Eradication Champion' for his key role in the fight to eradicate the disease. Kingston was one of five legislators, including Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson, honored at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Building.
"The world stands on the cusp of a historic victory over polio," said Jim Lacey, past president of Rotary International and current chair of the U.S. Polio Eradication Advocacy Task Force. "The leadership and support of present and past Polio Eradication Champions has been crucial to ensuring that every child is protected against this preventable disease."
Epidemics of polio struck thousands of Americans into the 1950s when vaccines were introduced. While the disease is at its lowest level ever, polio has never been stopped in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. To date the only human disease successfully eradicated has been smallpox.
Kingston, a former Rotarian himself, praised the organization's commitment to eradicating the disease worldwide.
"Since 1985, Rotary has spearheaded global efforts to put an end to polio," said Kingston. "In addition to raising funds, Rotarians have coordinated the kind of public-private partnership we need to advance disease prevention. We can win the fight against polio and save children from this preventable disease forever."
Over the last three decades, Rotary International has contributed more than $1.2 billion to global polio eradication efforts including $243 million in contributions from Rotarians in the United States.
Rotary International 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.