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CSR Press Release

Coca-Cola India Partners With Rotary International Against Polio

Submitted by: Coca-Cola Company, The

Categories: Philanthropy & Corporate Contributions

Posted: Jul 26, 2000 – 12:00 AM EST

 

First-ever Nationwide Corporate Partnership to Support India’s Pulse Polio Immunization Drive

As the Government of India prepares to launch its largest polio immunization drive for 2000, Coca-Cola India and Rotary International announced a first-ever national partnership to help the Government’s efforts to fight the crippling disease. Coca-Cola India committed to use its extensive distribution network to provide resources and expertise in three critical areas – publicity, community mobilization and volunteers – as part of Rotary International’s support for the immunization drive.

“The large-scale Polio eradication initiative by the Government of India has achieved tremendous success to date, halving the number of polio cases between 1998 and 1999,” said Alex von Behr, president and CEO of Coca-Cola India. “Yet there were still 2817 cases of polio in the country last year – that’s not just a statistic, but 2817 children who might lose the ability to walk unaided. Through our partnership with Rotary International, we are determined to play our part in eradicating this terrible disease from the country.”

“Coca-Cola India’s commitment will greatly help in enhancing the awareness levels, especially in the rural areas, as well as encouraging local communities to get their children immunized -- factors that are critical to the success of the programme,” said Mr. O. P. Vaish, Rotary International Director, adding, “This year four Intensified Pulse Polio Immunization (IPPI) Days will be held between September and January. The programme will begin in the high-risk areas, and culminate with two National Immunization Days (NIDs) in the months of December and January. During each of the two NIDs, over 140 million children will receive oral polio vaccine.”

Last year, more than 2.5 million polio workers/volunteers played a direct, hands-on role during each country-wide NID. An almost equal number provided back-up and indirect support in program logistics. A key strategy for IPPI 2000-2001 is to substantially increase the number of front-end workers to ensure that every child is reached.

Coca-Cola India’s support to the Pulse Polio programme will consist of raising awareness through outdoor advertising in the form of hoardings, banners and posters, public announcements on the company’s distribution vehicles and providing employee volunteers at vaccination centers and for mobilizing communities.

“Rather than just handing over a cheque, we believe that active grassroots support of our system is how we can add the most value to this critical health project for the country,” said Mr. von Behr.

Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General of World Health Organization in the luncheon organized by Rotary for leaders of Indian Industry in New Delhi, said, "There is a social responsibility for all companies in efforts to help children worldwide. It is a role based on enlightened self-interest more than charity, seeing funding for campaigns such as polio eradication as an investment in a better business environment. While general policies aiming to reduce poverty rarely work well, specific health interventions do. By reducing the burden of disease, we reduce cost and increase productivity. The polio eradication campaign is a clear example; when we succeed, direct savings alone will be US$ 1.5 billion per year worldwide."

Coca-Cola India is committed to serving the communities in which it operates. Some of the Company’s existing programmes have focused on creating opportunities for education and health for youth. Since 1994, the Company’s support for community projects have ranged from nationwide initiatives such as Cricket for the Blind to grassroots education and health projects around its plants. The Company also provides assistance to communities in crisis. Most recently, Coca-Cola India and its employees committed Rs 1.5 million towards drought relief in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, providing water and installing borewells for the drought-effected communities.

Rotary International launched its ambitious PolioPlus Programme in 1985. The program aims at immunizing every child against polio. Since then Rotary International has contributed over $400 million towards the eradication of polio. In addition, thousands of Rotary volunteers have assisted the national health authorities with social mobilization and implementation of NIDs.

The global polio eradication campaign is lead by the national governments and supported by the strong partnership among WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International and Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, as well as donor agencies such as USAID, DFID, JICA, DANIDA, KFW etc.

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