Nigerian singer/songwriter Tiwa Savage is the newest face to join Rotary’s ‘This Close’ public awareness campaign for polio eradication. A paralyzing and life altering disease, polio is on the verge of becoming the second human disease ever to be eliminated worldwide after smallpox.
Savage, who has been described by CNN as Nigeria’s biggest pop star, will help Rotary achieve its goal of a polio-free world by raising awareness about the vaccine-preventable disease, Savage administered a vaccine to children in Lagos in late April as Nigeria regularly conducts mass immunization campaigns to vaccinate every child under the age of five in the country.
The singer’s participation in this program comes at a critical juncture. Last year, Nigeria experienced a polio outbreak that paralyzed four children after passing nearly two years without a case of the disease. Her involvement in the campaign will raise important awareness that will help ensure the outbreak is stopped.
“This is a cause that hits close to home for me, not only as a mother of a small child, but as a proud Nigerian, whose country has been battling this disease for many years,” said Savage.
Savage’s musical career began when she was 16 years of age as a backup singer for George Michael. Before going out on her own, she worked with many other well-known musicians, such as Whitney Houston, Kelly Clarkson, Andrea Bocelli, Mary J Blige and many more. Tiwa Savage is also a successful songwriter. She was signed to Sony/ATV Music before establishing her own label 323 Entertainment which teamed up with Marvin Records in 2012.
Last year, Savage signed with Roc Nation as a management client. Already a superstar in her home country, her social media has amassed to a staggering 2.9 million followers on Instagram, 1. 8 million on Facebook, and 1.7 million on Twitter.
Savage announced her new partnership with Rotary last week in New York City at a World Immunization Week event. As part of the ‘This Close’ campaign, Savage will be featured in ads raising her thumb and forefinger in the ‘this close’ gesture with the tagline ‘we’re this close to ending polio.’ Since the initiative launched in 1988, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases a year to less than 37 cases in 2016.
The Nigerian music star joins other public figures and celebrities participating in Rotary’s public awareness campaign, including Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; actress Kristen Bell; Supermodel Isabeli Fontana; Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu; action movie star Jackie Chan; boxing great Manny Pacquiao; pop star Psy; golf legend Jack Nicklaus; conservationist Jane Goodall; premier violinist Itzhak Perlman; Grammy Award winners A.R. Rahman; Angelique Kidjo and Ziggy Marley; and peace advocate Queen Noor of Jordan.
Rotary launched its polio immunization program PolioPlus in 1985 and in 1988 became a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and more recently the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Rotary’s roles within the initiative are fundraising, advocacy, raising awareness and mobilizing volunteers. To date, Rotary has contributed more than $1.6 billion and countless volunteer hours to fight polio. Through 2018, every dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication will be matched two-to-one by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation up to $35 million a year. To date, more than 2.5 billion children have been immunized against polio, a paralyzing and sometimes deadly disease.