Rotary fights polio in India

| 08/04/2009

(CNS): A member of Rotaract Club of Grand Cayman joined Rotarians from the US, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands on a recent trip to India to help with the Rotary Polio Plus campaign. Meylys Swaby and 44 Rotarians, including Rotary Central Past President Peter Schmid, travelled to Chandigarh, one of two provinces in India where the highly contagious and crippling Type 1 Polio is still a major problem and 6 million children born every year. Going door to door, the health team, which included doctors and other health professionals, also worked against those who tried to dissuade people from accepting the immunisation programme on the grounds that it was dangerous.

As Swaby explained during a presentation to Rotary Central members, the province was divided up, for the purposes of vaccination, using a grid system and each was allocated a team of Rotarians. The area that the team worked in was a 5×5 km square slum which contained approximately 70,000 people. Following an initial few days when a clinic was set up for parents to take their children for vaccination, the Rotarians went door to door to identify any child who had not been immunised – each had a mark on their right hand if they had been.

According to a release from Rotary Central, Swaby was clearly moved by the sterling effort of local Rotarians who have funded a hospital and are now dedicating funds to its cancer wing. They also fund a school for the deaf and the education of children with disabilities, who are seen as a burden to any family. Rotary International works with local and partner clubs to ensure that the money they raise is put to the best use possible in areas like this.

The Rotary Foundation is determined to rid the world of Polio and their Polio Plus campaign is heavily supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Rotarians across the world have been challenged to raise a further $100 million by June 2012 – this is in addition to $100M already pledged. In return, the Gates Foundation has pledged $355 million.

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