Rotarians in Great Britain and Ireland will be this year once again supporting a National Immunisation Day for polio by sending out 76 volunteers to the most at risk areas of India. The Rotary volunteers, who come from across Great Britain & Ireland including England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, will be joining 250 other Rotary International members from Belgium, USA, Japan, Australia and Holland to help with the immunisation of children across the country.
This is an extremely encouraging response from Rotary members to keep India polio free, after the tremendous efforts by all to eradicate the disease from the area. Although the country is now free from polio, there is still the real risk of re-infection from the high number of cases found in nearby Pakistan. It is essential that high levels of immunisation are maintained to keep India polio free.
The aim of this year’s National Immunisation Day is to vaccinate over 172 million children under the age of 5 and in order to do so, the Rotary office in Delhi will allocate three locations where the International Rotarian volunteers will be placed to assist the local Rotary members.
The first will be located in the state of Utter Pradesh, an area which has been identified as a high risk area by the World Health Organisation, the second will be in Haryana, a region north of Delhi which has a high migrant population, and the final group will be staying in Delhi.
The immunisation, which is administered by two simple drops on the tongue, can be carried out easily by someone with no medical experience, and is crucial to keeping polio at bay. Rotary then hopes to continue to send out volunteers in the coming years, until this type of immunisation is replaced with an injection, a procedure that would require medically trained personnel.
Mike Yates, District Polio Plus Subcommittee Chair, and the leader of the trip comments, “I am amazed at the continued interest from Rotarians in protecting India from being re-infected by Polio. This is one of the biggest groups we have taken over in years, which show that people are still really passionate about keeping this disease at bay.”
Jannine Birtwistle, the Rotary polio champion adds, “Support by Rotarians travelling to India to take part not only gives a tremendous morale boost to our fellow Rotarians in India, but it also helps them to raise the profile of the National Immunisation Day to ensure high attendance for the immunisation process, which is key to keeping India polio free.”
For any additional information or to enquire about one of the volunteers participating speaking at your local group or club, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.