Rotarians in Pakistan boost polio eradication, flood relief
Pakistan PolioPlus Committee Chair Aziz Memon (center, in yellow cap) and other Rotarians visit a camp for people displaced by floods. Photo courtesy of Aziz Memon
Polio eradication workers and resources have been mobilized to support flood-relief efforts for millions of displaced people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, Pakistan, many of whom are living in camps with poor sanitation.
The country’s extensive polio eradication infrastructure is being used to help assess needs and monitor water-borne and epidemic diseases. Polio epidemiologists and surveillance officers in the worst-affected areas are equipped with vehicles, radios, satellite phones, vital medicines, and potable-water tanks.
The floods killed an estimated 1,500 people and have affected more than 20 million others, according to the United Nations. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the disaster the worst that the UN has seen.
The flooding has severely strained the region’s health care system, including the cold chain, which is critical for transporting the polio vaccine at the appropriate temperature.
"The floods all over Pakistan have made polio eradication more difficult and challenging. We are trying to give polio drops to children in the camps, and we hope to continue doing it," said Pakistan PolioPlus Committee Chair Aziz Memon.
"There is a very real risk of a substantial expansion of transmission in the second half of 2010," reported the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. To prevent that from happening, National Immunization Days (NIDs) were scheduled for September and October, aimed at reaching 24 million children under age five. Rotary International funded 90,000 vaccine carriers for the September NIDs.
The flood victims have many needs, and throughout Pakistan, the family of Rotary has offered assistance. Rotary and Rotaract clubs in districts 3271 and 3272, which cover Pakistan and Afghanistan, are working within their region to help provide food, clothing, medical care, and shelter.
Kashif Aziz and Baldev Kumar Maheshwari, both doctors in the Rotary Club of Samaro, Sind, and other Rotarians ran a medical camp at Pir Patho in late August and early September, treating more than 2,300 patients. Rotarians also distributed 200 bags of food, 2,000 items of clothing, and 300 pairs of shoes at the camp, under the supervision of club president Nadeem Nabi Kaim Khani.
For more information: