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From: "Petina Dixon" DixonP@rotaryintl.org
Date: Tue Jul 01, 2003  11:30:20 MNJ US/Eastern
To: "Petina Dixon" DixonP@rotaryintl.org
Subject: Rotary International's First African President Takes Office

Rotary International's First African President Takes Office

(EVANSTON, Ill. USA- 1 July 2003) - Jonathan B. Majiyagbe, a Nigerian lawyer, takes office on 1 July as President of Rotary International, a 98-year-old service organization with more than 1.2 million members and a network of 30,000 community-based service clubs in 166 countries.  As the first person of African origin to lead Rotary, Majiyagbe's presidency is historic. 

"This will be a big boost to Rotary in Africa," says Abdulrahman Tunji Funsho, a Nigerian Rotary member.  "It proves that Rotary is an international organization of equal people and that selecting a leader is not based on a particular race or religion."

"He is the right president at the right time," says James Lacy, chairman of the trustees of The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.  "I can't think of anyone better suited for this year."

Majiyagbe has chosen "Lend a Hand" as the theme of his presidency.  States Majiyagbe:  "We will Lend a Hand to alleviate poverty, educate the illiterate and relieve the scourge of disease, and we will Lend a Hand of fellowship to all of the family of Rotary.  I will encourage Rotarians to help meet the basic needs of the many people who live in desperate circumstances today.

A member of the Honourable Body of Benchers, Majiyagbe is also a former member of the interim judicial service committee, Kano State, a past vice president of the Nigerian Bar Association and a member of the International Bar Association.  He was chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Kano and now serves as the Chairman of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Kano Branch

Dedicated to the global effort to eradicate polio, Majiyagbe has served as Chairman of the African Regional PolioPlus Committee and member of the International PolioPlus Committee.  Rotary's PolioPlus program, launched in 1985, is an aggressive public/private partnership to assist international health agencies and governments to certify the world as polio free by the year 2005, Rotary's centennial anniversary.  Rotary has committed more than a half billion US dollars to the eradication effort. To date, more than two billion children have been immunized against the deadly poliovirus.  Rotary has contributed more than US$171 million toward immunization activities in Africa

A Rotary member since 1967, Majiyagbe is the past president and a current member of the Rotary Club of Kano. Rotary International has 874 clubs and 23,000 members located in 51 countries throughout Africa.  Rotary International has been an important presence on the continent since the first club was established in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1921.

Rotary Raises US$88,557,000 To Battle Polio

Fundraising Drive Exceeds Campaign Goa

(BRISBANE, Australia)  As part of Rotary's 20-year commitment to end polio by its 100th anniversary in 2005, the humanitarian service organization announced that its 1.2 million members successfully raised over US$88 million; surpassing its original goal of US$80 million.

Last year, Rotary embarked on its second major fundraising drive entitled, "Fulfilling our Promise: Eradicate Polio," to help raise critically needed resources to purchase oral polio vaccine, and to help cover operational expenses and poliovirus surveillance.

During the announcement to more than 16,000 Rotary members gathered in Brisbane, Australia for Rotary's 94th annual international convention, Bhichai Rattakul, 2002-03 President of Rotary International said, "Thanks to the remarkable commitment and generosity of Rotary members worldwide, we are closer than ever to wiping out this crippling and deadly disease. Rotary was the first to have the vision of a polio-free world. Today, we are just as committed to this legacy; our gift to the children of the world."

The funds raised this year are in addition to the US$500 million Rotary has committed to polio eradication since 1985, when Rotary launched its first fundraising drive with the goal of US$120 million.  By the end of that campaign, Rotary more than doubled its goal and created its PolioPlus program - the largest private-sector support of a global health initiative ever.  In addition, over one million men and women of Rotary have volunteered their time and personal resources to help immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries

A highly infectious disease, polio still affects children mainly under the age of five, in countries located in South Asia and in parts of Africa.  Polio can cause paralysis and sometimes death.  As there is no cure for polio, the best protection is prevention.  For as little as US .60 cents worth of vaccine, a child can be protected against this crippling disease for life.  

Great strides have been made in polio eradication.  In the 1980s, approximately 1,000 children were infected by this crippling disease every day.  In 2002, 1,919 children contracted polio in seven countries (India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Niger, Somalia and Egypt), down from the 350,000 cases estimated in 125 countries in 1988.  The Americas were declared free from polio in 1994, as well as the Western Pacific region in 2000, and Europe in 2002.  Once eradicated, polio will be the second disease after smallpox ever to be eliminated worldwide

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

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For more info: http://www.rotary.org

This issue is dedicated to Global Awareness: All The Shah's Men & "Strategy of Preemptive Strive"

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