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Maidenhead councillor named in Parliament for work in eradicating polio

A councillor has spoken of the ‘wonderful’ moment when a Government minister paid tribute in Parliament to her work helping eradicate polio.

Cllr Judith Diment (Con, Riverside) has worked with Rotary organisations to eradicate the disease for more than 20 years.

She oversees Rotary International’s Polio Eradication Advocacy Task Force.

Last month, the Middle East and international development minister Alistair Burt spoke of her work to the House of Commons.

Mr Burt, who is also a Rotarian, said during a discussion about vaccination in developing countries: “I recently met Judith Diment, who is chair of the polio advocacy taskforce.

“Rotary has done remarkable work on that issue, and we pay tribute to everything it has done over the years.”

Cllr Diment was delighted the minister recognised the work to eradicate polio and said it helped counter myths about vaccination.

“It is wonderful that the work of Rotary was recognised in Parliament, especially as the UK Government is so supportive and is a great advocate for the programme,” she said.

“The support has always been cross party. It is also important because vaccinating children is critical to universal health coverage and we must combat the fake news on vaccinations and the movement preventing children being vaccinated.”

Cllr Diment became involved with the project when Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland became a client of her PR company in 1996.

She joined Rotary Club of Windsor St George in 2004, serving as president for 2007-8 and district governor of Rotary in the Thames Valley for 2012-13 before moving to Maidenhead Thames Rotary in 2016.

She has lobbied prime ministers, ministers in the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development, members of the European Parliament and EU commissioners for two decades.

The impact of the work worldwide initiatives like Rotary’s polio task force have made - such as the efforts of the World Health Organisation, Unicef, the US Centre for Disease Control and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - is evident.

“When we started in 1985 there were 350,000 cases of polio a year in 125 countries. This year there have been 11 cases of polio – three in Pakistan and eight in Afghanistan.

“Nigeria is also an endemic country but has had no cases since August 2016.”

The polio task force has raised more than $9billion from governments. The US is its largest donor, followed by the UK Government.

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