R. I. President Message

RI President 2018-19 Barry Rassin - Dec. 2018

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Dear Fellow Rotarians,


RI President Barry Rassin's response to the three questions raised by Financial Times - International Edition

Barry Rassin, president of Rotary International, who this week presented Theresa May, the UK prime minister, with the Polio Champion Award for her commitment to an eradication campaign that has so far cost governments, donors and NGOs $15bn.

Why did Rotary first become involved in polio eradication?

Rotary in the Philippines wanted to get rid of polio over 30 years ago and helped with immunisation. What’s amazing is that we still have a strong passion to finish what we started. We believe we can eradicate the disease. We can get to communities nobody else can and advocate for government and private funding.


Do you think the disease will ever be eradicated?

The question is how long before it happens. We believe we will see the last case during the next calendar year. But we need to keep reminding Rotarians that we have to keep everything going for the coming three years until the world is certified polio-free.


Wouldn’t it be better to spend the money on other things?

If we stop the campaign, polio will spread again. The WHO estimates 200,000 children would be paralysed in the next decade otherwise. Last year we raised more funding than ever at $414m. But we have to rethink how we are going to finish this. We are in discussions about what to do differently.

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