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SAO PAULO, Brazil, June 4, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- With an important milestone in the effort to END POLIO NOW throughout Nigeria just weeks away, the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation today urged political, public health and community leaders to redouble their commitment to the effort to eradicate polio once and for all. The comments came as representatives of the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation ready to participate in the 2015 Rotary International Convention June 6th – 9th.
No new cases of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) have been reported since July 24, 2014, which means Nigeria could be just weeks away from being removed from the list of polio endemic countries.
"The collective achievements to date give us hope that we can finally eradicate polio not only from Nigeria and Africa, but from planet Earth," said Sir Emeka Offor, who serves as Rotary's PolioPlus ambassador in Nigeria and is the founder of the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, a non-governmental, philanthropic organization focused on youth employment, families, education, healthcare and infrastructure development. "There will be time to celebrate, but that time is not now. This is a very vulnerable time and Nigeria is susceptible to another outbreak if we allow complacency. Instead, we strongly urge Nigeria's leaders across all political parties and religions to join public health experts in advancing the Global Polio Eradication Initiative over the finish line."
The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation donated $2 million, which was matched with a grant of an additional $4 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to support the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The initiative was launched by Rotary International, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Together they have assembled a powerful infrastructure of disease prevention and surveillance, multilateral networks equipped to respond to outbreaks and well-trained healthcare professionals.
Nigeria will need to go another two years without a case of polio before it can be formally certified as polio-free by the World Health Organization. This period will require continued program innovations and strategies to get polio vaccine to underserved and difficult to reach communities – especially areas in the Northeast where upwards of 60 percent of settlements have been inaccessible to vaccinators.
"We applaud the commitment and creativity of the healthcare professionals who take great risks to bring the benefits of vaccines to our children," said Sir Emeka. "Despite security challenges, they managed to deliver millions of doses of oral polio vaccine in Borno and Yobe states during the past year – a major step in the goal of reaching every child with the vaccine."
About the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation
The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation is a philanthropic organization based in Oraifite, Anambra State, Nigeria. The Foundation seeks to alleviate the sufferings of the less privileged through philanthropy, and focuses primarily on giving support and hope to those in need irrespective of tribe, creed, religion and nation. The Foundation has affected the lives of many Nigerians through its domestic programs and projects, which include Youth Empowerment, Widows Cooperative, Education, and Health Services and Infrastructural Development. The Scholarship Program honoring Sir Emeka Offor was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students who come from impoverished homes and have no other recourse to Financial Aid. For more information, visit http://sireofforfoundation.org or like us at: https://www.facebook.com/siremekaofforfoundation.
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