TIME Magazine has enlisted Nigerian physician, Dr. Tunji Funsho, to the 2020 TIME100 Most Influential People in the World.
The TIME100 list, which is now in its seventeenth year in recognising the activism, innovation and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals, celebrated Funsho’s uncommon role in ensuring Africa’s certification as wild polio-free in August 2020.
Funsho, a Lagos-based cardiologist, worked closely with Rotary’s partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI): the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, for the African region to be certified wild polio-free on August 25.
This historic announcement means that five of WHO’s six regions, representing more than 90 per cent of the world’s population, are now free of the wild poliovirus. The virus is now endemic in just two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“I’m honoured to be recognised by TIME for my part in ensuring that no child in Africa will ever again be paralysed by wild polio, a disease that once disabled 75,000 African children every single year.
“Eradicating the wild poliovirus in Africa was a team effort that required the cooperation and dedication of governments, partners, Rotary members, hundreds of thousands of health workers, and countless parents who chose to have their children vaccinated against polio,” Funsho said while reacting to his enlistment to the annual TIME100 Most Influential People in the World.
As the leader of Rotary’s Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee, Funsho worked alongside Rotary members throughout the country to raise awareness about the importance of polio immunisation, encouraged governments and public figures to support polio eradication, and served as a vocal leader and advocate for Rotary’s fight to end polio in Africa.
As a member of Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force on Polio, he coordinated immunisation and advocacy campaigns with the Minister of State for Health and the Inter-Agency Coordination Committee for Polio Eradication.
He also worked closely with the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, the Dangote Foundation, the Traditional Leaders Council and the Federation of Muslim Women’s Association of Nigeria.
In August 2019, Nigeria reached three years without a case of wild poliovirus.
Nigeria’s progress, led by Rotary, its GPEI partners and local and national governments, was the result of decades of sustained efforts, including domestic and international financing, the commitment of hundreds of thousands of health workers, and innovative strategies to immunise children who previously couldn’t be reached due to insecurity in the country’s northern states.
Congratulations, Dr. Tunji Funsho!
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