Rotary is an outstanding example of ordinary people changing the world through citizen action, says renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs in an article published in Asian newspapers in the last week of June.

By Vukoni Lupa-Lasaga
Rotary International News
Photo by Monika Lozinska-Lee

5 July 2006

In the piece featured in Taipei Times, of Taiwan, and Daily News, of Pakistan, Sachs writes that instead of waiting for politicians and public agencies to act, Rotarians have led the way toward the goal of eradicating polio worldwide.

"Rotary took on the challenge of getting vaccines to the poor, in regions with weak or nonexistent public health systems," he notes. "Rotarians dreamed not only of reducing the number of polio cases but of eradicating the disease entirely."

Sachs says that the progress made against polio, a 99 percent reduction in cases, is historic and that despite some last-minute difficulties the goal of eradicating the disease is now within reach.

"More importantly, Rotary's leadership on polio offers a more general lesson in the fight against extreme poverty, hunger, and disease," he says.

Improving the lives of all the world's citizens is a concern that Sachs, who is special adviser to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, shares with Rotarians. He has authored The End of Poverty, a best-selling book that discusses the economics of eradicating poverty, and speaks on the issue at every forum available to him, from summits of world leaders to gatherings of volunteers.

On 14 June, Sachs, who also is head of the UN Millennium Project, made a keynote address at the 2006 RI Convention, in which he identified Rotary's grassroots approach to humanitarian initiatives as key to ending poverty. The Millennium Project promotes the Millennium Development Goals adopted by world leaders at the 2000 UN Summit in New York.

In the newspaper article, Sachs expands on the idea that volunteer organizations like Rotary are indispensable to the success of the Millennium Development Goals.

"Even when politicians don't lead, it is still possible for committed individuals and voluntary organizations to change the world," says Sachs. "The key is to link a bold idea with a practical and powerful technology, and then to push the idea and technology forward through mass citizen action."

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