Wiping out polio around the world
ON MONDAY night, Casino Rotarian Carol Brown spoke at Lismore Workers Club on the Rotary Foundation Polio National Immunisation Day (NID) and the impact this year’s Rotary Polio Eradication Program has had in India.
Mrs Brown said the program began about 25 years ago, with an eradicate polio from the world and it is nearly there.
This would be the second eradication of an infectious disease, the first being smallpox.
“In 1988, there were 350,000 reported cases in the world and that fell to about 2000 cases last year but the locals do play a big part,” she said.
“Every time we’ve been to a country in the program, the locals who call to the people to bring their babies out for immunisation accompany us.
“This year, our team comprised 18 Australians including a leader, and a person from the World Health Organisation to oversee our work, ensuring everything was done properly.
“The program has been ongoing and now there are only three endemic countries left apart from India.
“Although we were well received by the people, it wasn’t easy as some religious groups are somewhat hesitant to have their children immunised.
“We have difficulties accessing places in Afghanistan and Pakistan because of conflict, and Nigeria because of the migrating population of people moving for work.
“In India, we travelled by four-wheel drive before boarding a boat to visit three different islands in the middle of a lake to immunise children living there.”
All Rotarians from across the world pay their own fares to the many destinations where help is needed.
In one day alone in India, they delivered 225 million doses of the vital vaccine to children aged from two to five years.
When asked if intervention by Rotary will ever eradicate polio, Mrs Brown gave an unequivocal, “Yes, absolutely”.
She has been invited back to India next year to help finish the job, finally eradicating polio for good.