VIDEO from Synaptic Digital and Rotary International: Bill Gates in Nigeria to Kick Polio Out of Africa

Rotary clubs across the continent unite as ball's 4-month journey comes to a close in Egypt

Jun 15, 2010, 09:00 ET from Synaptic Digital from ,Rotary International

NEW YORK, June 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, gave the Kick Polio Out of Africa (KPOA) campaign a boost by signing the football as it traveled from Cape Town to Egypt ahead of the 2010 World Cup. During the ball's epic journey through 22 polio-affected and high-risk countries, Rotary clubs throughout Africa mobilized the public for massive immunizations and raising awareness for polio eradication. Gates lauded Rotary's efforts to help kick polio out the continent -- and eventually out of the world.

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Since Rotary and its partners began their fight against polio in 1988, the incidence of the disease has been reduced by 99 percent.  In Africa, only Nigeria remains polio-endemic, but the disease still affects children in many other high-risk countries, emphasizing the importance of protecting all African children from polio. According to the World Health Organization, only three cases of polio were reported in Nigeria through 25 May this year, compared with 276 cases reported during the same time period in 2009.

On 23 February, Rotary launched its "Kick Polio out of Africa" awareness campaign in Cape Town, one of the host cities to the 2010 World Cup, with the symbolic kicking of a ball signed by Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Afflicted with polio as a child, Tutu joined the campaign as goodwill ambassador. From Egypt, the ball will travel to Montreal, Canada, to be presented at the Rotary International Convention later this month. The ball's journey is being underwritten by DHL Express.

In support of the campaign, Rotary launched a virtual ball inviting football fans and supporters around the world to sign the ball.  With a few simple clicks of a mouse, one can sign the online ball at and join the global movement of solidarity to save all children from this crippling and sometimes fatal disease. The signatures will be formally presented to the spearheading partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative after the 2010 World Cup.

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SOURCE Synaptic Digital; Rotary International