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Standing Tall in the Fight Against Polio
Earlier this year, the UK government backed Rotary’s polio
campaign by giving £100 million. Shortly before her departure as Secretary of
State for International Development, Priti Patel discussed the global
challenges which lie ahead.
Sudan, Yemen, north-east Nigeria and Somalia – countries in turmoil, weighed
down by conflict, famine and poverty.
to Priti Patel, the world is currently facing a series of humanitarian crises
which, when taken together, are on a scale never witnessed before.
that’s why, according to the former Secretary of State for International
Development, the United Kingdom needs to be taking a lead.
are no words which can describe the horrors we are witnessing in terms of
famine and drought, but also persecution,” she explained while in post.
course, many of those problems are man-made. I have been to South Sudan where I
have seen people persecuted, people who have been left destitute. We don’t turn
our backs on those countries and those individuals who need a voice.”
why, when pushed on the controversial 2015 decision for the UK to commit 0.7%
of its Gross Domestic Product on foreign aid at a time of austerity when other
Whitehall departments were having their budgets slashed, Priti Patel doesn’t
bat an eyelid.
“By putting in the money now, by working
collectively with Rotary,
Bill Gates, with the big partners who have come together to end polio now,
we can say to other countries and governments to step up now”
argue how can the UK justify such a commitment when that cash could be spent on
key areas at home such as health and education?
Priti Patel points out that because of this commitment, other countries have
now stepped up to the plate.
of being vilified, it is a Conservative government which deserves credit for
this,” she insisted.
point about 0.7% is how you spend it and how you leverage it in terms of your
own domestic security, along with domestic and international interests.
is a very good example where we are spending money to not only save lives but
change lives, and achieving that domestically. Diseases know no boundaries or
borders, whether it is polio, Ebola or the Zika virus.
have been at the forefront of tackling those diseases, as well as looking at
the remedies. Look at money we have spent on innovation and research in British
universities which, by the way, has created jobs in the UK.
it comes to our aid spending, no-one can accuse this Government of just
spending money. I have been mindful of stamping out the inefficiencies of
spending. It is taxpayers’ money. And you will not find a stronger advocate and
champion of the UK taxpayer than me.”
Patel revealed she was delighted the government committed £100 million of her
budget this summer in the fight against polio. Rotary’s campaigning heavily
influenced her thinking towards making the financial commitment.
“There are no words which can describe the
horrors we are witnessing in
terms of famine and drought, but also persecution.”
played a big part in the decision to give that money,” she explained.
has a great footprint, not just locally, but internationally for all the good
work it is doing. Through that awareness-raising, it has made a very big
difference. But for the election, we would have made this announcement much
she said, is just one of many of the ‘medieval’ diseases which need to be
tackled and eradicated in the 21st century. “We need to go on that extra mile
of the journey towards polio eradication,” added Priti Patel.
life chances, their life expectancy to get themselves out of poverty are
hindered by these diseases.”
I think we should stand tall, not just for the commitment that we have made of
£100 million to eradicate polio, but actually it is the UK, thanks to the
generosity of British taxpayers, which has enabled this.”
putting in the money now, by working collectively with Rotary, Bill Gates, with
the big partners who have come together to end polio now, we can say to other
countries and governments to step up now.”
should be very mindful of the countries we are working in: Nigeria;
Afghanistan; and Pakistan where there have been very significant cultural
barriers to immunisation. This is something we all have to collectively tackle
and be responsible for.”
when there have been attacks on polio workers, we need to call out this type of
behaviour which needs to change to ensure immunisation can take place so polio
workers can continue saving lives and make a big difference.”
for the future, Priti Patel says she wants the Government to work closely with
Rotary in areas such as poverty alleviation, slavery, trafficking, as well as
women and economic empowerment.
we need to end some of the appalling things, which quite frankly, are taking
place in the 21st century and which should have been dealt with a long time
think working with Rotary to show the UK is leading the world in these areas,
that we can be a force for good and strong leaders in all of these areas, is
exactly where we should be coming together.”
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- First published in Rotary, the official magazine of Rotary
in Great Britain and Ireland. Find out more at www.rotarygbi.org
- The opinions
expressed in this make-up article do not necessarily represent the opinions of
Rotary eClub One and its editorial staff