Walking through the slums of Delhi, including through an area where a thousand people live in a rubbish tip, there is an incessant buzzing of flies around my face, plus an indescribable smell as I try to avoid stepping into the open sewer at the side of the mud path I am walking along.
I then stop to put two drops of polio vaccine into a child’s mouth and see the mother of that child smile. Although she can’t speak any English, there is an unspoken ‘thank you’ in her eyes that her child is being protected against this dreadful disease.
That was my Rotary moment during a National Polio Immunisation Campaign in India and, as we made sure that no child was missed, I realised then that I was taking part in a moment of history by helping Rotary fulfil our promise, our goal, of a polio-free world.
The World Health Organization’s Director of Polio Eradication, Aidan O’Leary, has said that 2023 is a critical year for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, of which Rotary is a spearheading partner.
He insists the programme remains on track to interrupt all remaining wild poliovirus transmission in 2023.
Thanks to Rotary’s efforts, 20 million people have been saved from paralysis and are able to walk today.”
The WHO says that Afghanistan and Pakistan — the two countries in which polio is still endemic — are closer than they have ever been to eradicating wild poliovirus.
This year, Pakistan has reported just two wild polio cases; Afghanistan, five. So, there have been just seven cases globally at the time of writing.
That is why it is crucial that we deliver on our promise: we started the campaign to eradicate polio and shall be there at the finish.
World Polio Day is on October 24th which gives us the opportunity to highlight the incredible success of our End Polio Now Campaign with events and fundraising activities to increase our impact and attract new members at the same time.
One simple idea is to Walk a Mile to End Polio. You can walk alone or in groups. Just get your trainers or walking boots on, head outside and walk a mile or more to raise funds.
Sponsorship forms, flier, press release template and World Polio Day toolkit are on this link.
Thanks to Rotary’s efforts, 20 million people have been saved from paralysis and are able to walk today.
This fundraising activity reminds us of the life-changing difference eradicating polio is having. So please join me and Walk a Mile for Polio.