This and the next four blog entries record our participation as Rotarians in the National Immunisation Day (NID) in India in February 2013. They are written with fellow Rotarians in mind, particularly those who might be thinking about taking part in a NID sometime in the future.
For those unused to navigating blogs, look to the right of this page in the February 2013 section (roughly opposite or below the “End Polio Now” symbol) and you will find five entries – if they are not showing individually, then click on the word February and they should then show at the bottom of that months list of blog entries.
Alternatively, you can get to the other four entries by clicking on the appropriate “here”
Travelling to Delhi click here
Getting to Badaun and Bereilly click here
Immunisation Day click here
Follow-up Day click here
When we returned to the UK, we were interviewed by the Bishop’s Stortford Talking Newspaper and the interview (in two parts) can be listened to by clicking on the arrow below here to listen to Part 1
and on the arrow below here to listen to Part 2 – each part lasts around 15 minutes.
In 1988, the total number of cases of endemic Poliomyelitis worldwide was estimated to be around 350,000 spread over 125 countries but by the end of 2012, it was known to be
just over 200 with polio being endemic in only 3 countries: Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
For my generation (a post WWII baby), Polio used to be a much feared sometimes lethal illness and I can still remember being taken for my first Polio vaccination when I was nine. For my sons’ generation, Polio was no longer a common illness and for my grandsons’ generation, Polio is history as far as the United Kingdom is concerned although they were all vaccinated just in case.
The first recorded involvement of Rotary in the eradication of Polio is in 1979 when Rotary Clubs bought and helped deliver polio vaccine to more than six million children in the Philippines.
In 1985, Rotary International launched its PolioPlus campaign with the objective of making Polio the third virus to be eliminated throughout the world. Rotarians made an initial pledge of US$120 million and to date, their total financial contribution is over $1 billion with much more value being given in time. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have also significantly contributed to the Rotary campaign by more than matching Rotary’s cash contribution.
Three years after this (in 1988), the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched and this is currently led by Rotary, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Rotary’s involvement in Polio eradication is detailed in numerous places including:
- a timeline (only completed up to 2009) about Polio and Rotary here
- You Tube videos about Rotary and Polio here
- a factsheet about Rotary’s contribution to the eradication of Polio here
- and a particularly good (and short) BBC account of the February 2012 Polio vaccination campaign in India here
- Rotary International’s India Polio Eradication website here (always seems to be a little out of date and incomplete)
- a very good article in the New York times about how the “Hearts and Minds” campaign was managed in India here
- an article here on Polio published in the Independent which was written a journalist who came to the February 2013 NID in Delhi
and there are an equally large number of articles about Polio in general available on the web including:
- The Global Polio Eradication Initiative here
- You Tube videos about Polio in general here
- World Health Authority (WHO) fact sheet about Polio here
- a readable explanation of Polio here (although many of the hyperlinked references in the article are no longer available)
- a good article about a 2012 Polio immunisation campaign in India here
- the Indian Government’s Polio eradication website here
The WHO estimate that through the actions of Rotary and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that worldwide, there have been 10 million fewer cases of Polio since the campaign started.
Polio was endemic in India until January 2012 when after years of intensive national and local vaccination programmes, they were able to say that their last recorded case of Polio was 12 months ago in January 2011.
During a National Immunisation Day (NID), up to 170 million children are vaccinated by up to 2½ million vaccinators and during a sub-National Immunisation Day (SNID) when only parts of the country are immunised, up to 70 million children are vaccinated.
Currently multiple immunisation days are held each year because a country must have no cases of polio for a three years before it is officially declared polio free by the WHO. The general sanitary and dietary conditions found throughout much of India do not lend themselves to maintaining a polio free status and therefore multiple doses of vaccine are given.
Although nothing has been decided yet, once India obtains Polio free status, there are likely to be only one or two NIDs per year because only 55% get the intravenous injection at a health centre.
For many years, Rotarians from all around the world have travelled, at their own expense, to India to take part in NIDs or SNIDs as Vaccinators. Their practical contribution may be small but (apart from enabling them to see how Rotary monies are spent and to see the programme in action) their presence at a vaccination station acts as a magnet to the local population who come to see “these strange people dressed in yellow T-shirts”.
We travelled to India as members of a team of Rotarians from the United Kingdom and Belgium for the February 2013 National Immunisation Day. We went to Baduan in Utter Pradesh which seems to be known for little other than its poverty (other Rotarians went to Delhi and to Lucknow) and these five blog entries record our experiences.