Nigerian singer/songwriter, Tiwa Savage, is the newest face to join Rotary’s ‘This Close’ public awareness campaign for polio eradication.
Savage, who was described by CNN as Nigeria’s biggest pop star, will help Rotary achieve its goal of a polio-free world by raising awareness about the vaccine-preventable disease.
The singer’s participation in this programme comes at a critical juncture. Savage administered vaccine to children in Lagos in late April.
Last year, Nigeria experienced a polio outbreak that paralysed four children after passing nearly two years without a case of the disease.
Rotary says her involvement in the campaign will raise important awareness that will help ensure the outbreak is stopped.
“This is a cause that hits close to home for me, not only as a mother of a small child, but as a proud Nigerian, whose country has been battling this disease for many years,” said Savage.
Savage announced her new partnership with Rotary last week in New York City at a World Immunisation Week event. As part of the campaign, Savage will be featured in ads raising her thumb and forefinger in the ‘this close’ gesture with the tagline ‘we’re this close to ending polio.’
The Nigerian music star joins other public figures and celebrities participating in Rotary’s public awareness campaign, including Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; actress Kristen Bell; supermodel Isabeli Fontana; Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
Others include action movie star Jackie Chan; boxing great Manny Pacquiao; pop star Psy; golf legend Jack Nicklaus; conservationist Jane Goodall; premier violinist Itzhak Perlman; Grammy Award winners A R Rahman, Angelique Kidjo and Ziggy Marley; and peace advocate Queen Noor of Jordan.
A paralysing and life altering disease, polio is on the verge of becoming the second human disease ever to be eliminated worldwide after smallpox.
Nigeria regularly conducts mass immunisation campaigns to vaccinate every child under the age of five in the country.
Since the initiative launched in 1988, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 per cent, from about 350,000 cases a year to less than 37 cases in 2016.
Rotary launched its polio immunisation programme in 1985 and in 1988 became a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and more recently the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Rotary’s roles within the initiative are fundraising, advocacy, raising awareness and mobilising volunteers. To date, Rotary has contributed more than $1.6 billion and countless volunteer hours to fight polio.
Through 2018, every dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication will be matched two-to-one by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation up to $35 million a year.
To date, more than 2.5 billion children have been immunised against polio, a paralysing and sometimes deadly disease.