The New York Times today (22 July) published a major front page story about the polio eradication effort in Pakistan, one of three remaining polio-endemic countries. The New York Times reaches nearly 1.87 million print subscribers daily, and its website hosts more than 15.4 million visitors per month.

The article does a wonderful job highlighting Rotary’s leadership role, and in fact the entire final third of the story focuses on the contributions of Pakistani Rotarians, led by National PolioPlus Committee Chair Aziz Memon, who worked extensively with the writer, Donald G. McNeil Jr., during his visit to Pakistan earlier this year to report the story. Rotarians are accurately portrayed as dedicated and courageous “front line” volunteers, despite sometimes facing personal risks. The story also mentions International PolioPlus Committee Chair Dr. Robert Scott’s trip to Pakistan in March.

While the article discusses recent setbacks and challenges, the overall tone is cautiously optimistic and the information presented is fair and accurate. The print edition of the story includes six photographs, one of which shows Rotary’s End Polio Now logo. The online version links to a photo gallery, which includes an image of a Rotary vaccination team leader and other Rotary visuals.

This article is the culmination of months of behind-the-scenes work by our Public Relations and PolioPlus staff members and Chair Memon’s in-country team. The absolute key was connecting the writer to Chair Memon, who contributed greatly to the success of this major media opportunity. IPPC Vice-Chair Dr. John L. Sever also provided valuable information to the writer in an interview earlier this year.

The New York Times article is the latest in a series of major international print and broadcast stories about Rotary and polio in the past 18 months, since we ramped up our media outreach in order to elevate Rotary’s polio eradication profile.  Other influential media outlets that have covered Rotary’s polio eradication work include BBC TV, the Economist, Time magazine, and The Wall Street Journal. This top tier media coverage greatly enhances the work of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative by raising the public awareness and support that are absolutely crucial as we implement the end game strategic plan that is the roadmap to our goal of a polio-free world.