India presses its advantage against polio
John Germ, chair of Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge Committee, holds a child as Rotary Foundation Trustee Ashok Mahajan administers drops of polio vaccine, part of a Subnational Immunization Day in Mumbai, India, on 13 November. Photo by Ritam Banerjee
W ith just one case of polio reported in the last 10 months, India is more determined than ever to ensure eradication of the disease.
As part of that effort, Rotarians helped administer bivalent oral polio vaccine to more than 35 million children during a Subnational Immunization Day on 13 November. The vaccine is effective against the two remaining types of the virus.
Sporting their signature yellow vests and caps, the Rotarians also helped organize free health camps and polio awareness rallies, as well as distribute banners, caps, face masks, comic books, and other items to the children.
On 20 November, a team of Rotarians from District 3700 (Korea) served in a health camp in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, which included immunization of children against polio. The camp was organized by Indian Rotarians in cooperation with local health officials and UNICEF.
The following day, the team took part in a door-to-door mop-up campaign, administering vaccine to children who otherwise would have missed receiving it. A TV news crew from Korea accompanied the Rotarians throughout their visit, taking the End Polio Now message back to their country.
And in Mumbai, Rotary leaders John Germ, chair of Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge Committee; Rotary Foundation Trustee Ashok Mahajan; and RI General Secretary John Hewko joined Indian Rotarians in immunizing children.
“This year, there have been just over 500 cases worldwide. The fact that only one of those cases is in India is a tremendous achievement that reflects the determination of the nation's leaders and its citizens to finally rid their country -- and the world -- of this terrible scourge,” Hewko wrote in an article published earlier this month in the Hindu Business Line.
India’s next National Immunization Days are scheduled for January and February, and a series of supplementary activities are planned through June. At the same time, intensive surveillance for the wild poliovirus is continuing throughout the country.
“Rotary has invested heavily in surveillance in India over the last 12 months,” said Bruce Aylward, the World Health Organization’s assistant director-general for polio eradication and related areas, at a September meeting of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee. “That’s the reason we can say with confidence that we think we’re getting close to zero [cases] in India.”
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