Family of Rotary supports immunizations in India
From left (in caps): Usha Mittal, Lakshmi Mittal, Rajashree Birla, Binota Banerjee (wife of RI President-nominee Kalyan Banerjee), and Past RI President Rajendra K. Saboo inaugurate a health camp in New Delhi on 7 January that also promoted India’s National Immunization Days. Photo courtesy of India PolioPlus Committee
Rotarians, Rotaractors, and friends of Rotary joined health workers in carrying out India's National Immunization Days (NIDs) in January and February, mobilizing public support, vaccinating children, and contributing additional funding to the global polio eradication effort.
The NIDs marked the first time the new bivalent oral polio vaccine was used in India, when the Dalai Lama administered the vaccine to children in Bihar in January.
The Rotary Club of Delhi South Metropolitan, Delhi, with support from the India PolioPlus Committee, organized a health camp on 7 January for underprivileged residents that also encouraged people to participate in polio immunization activities. Rajashree Birla, an honorary member of the Rotary clubs of Bombay and Mulund, Maharashtra, joined Lakshmi Mittal, who leads ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, and his wife, Usha, at the inauguration of the health camp.
After the outreach effort, the Mittals pledged an additional US$500,000 to The Rotary Foundation in support of Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge for polio eradication. In 2008, they made a $1 million contribution to the challenge.
"The new fervor created by this challenge amongst Rotarians has enthused people and helped generate a great deal of awareness and interest about the polio campaign," says India PolioPlus Committee Chair Deepak Kapur.
During the launch of NIDs on 7 February in New Delhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, India's minister of health and family welfare, was honored with Rotary International’s Polio Eradication Champion Award for his leadership in directing the country’s effort to end polio. At the event, Birla announced a contribution of Rs 50 million (about $1.1 million) to Rotary’s challenge. In 2008, she contributed $2 million to the challenge.
"In the process of polio eradication there are many challenges, and we have to become more formidable to beat them," said Birla of the sustained commitment needed to eradicate the disease.
Acknowledging Birla's generous support for ending polio, Azad said, "Our heart should not just beat for self but for those who are deprived, underprivileged, and in need."
Learn more about Rotary's effort to eradicate polio:
Read more about polio and what you can do to help.
Watch a video about Rotary's progress in meeting the US$200 Million Challenge