John Owen aids Polio project in India

The whole experience was inspiring, humbling, motivational and eye opening. These were the thoughts of John Owen from the Rotary Club of Seaford on his return from New Delhi after taking part in the National Immunisation Polio campaign across India.
Rotary International launched a public health campaign in 1985 that led to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative being set up. Rotary joined forces with other organisations and now this mission is being undertaken as the world is on the verge of elimination one of the most dreaded diseases – poliomyelitis and Rotary are leading the way. For those who are unaware, polio is a serious viral infection causing temporary or permanent paralysis which can be life-threatening. Thirty years ago, there were a thousand cases of polio a day in 125 countries including the UK!
The first day was a rather joyous occasion with colourful dancers, bands taking part in a Polio Immunisation Awareness Rally involving over 800 school children, Rotarians from many parts of the world, Government health workers plus parents and public.
The second day was set aside for immunising 172,000,000 children under the age of 5 and these were carried out in 709,000 immunisation booths all over India. Thousands of Indian Rotarians were involved in the event along with health workers. In Delhi John was with 68 other British people, 38 Belgians, 38 Japanese, 3 Swedes, 1 Swiss and 70 from the USA. John was manning one of the 200 booths set up around the Delhi region to target 25,000 children under the age of 5. The mission was to administer two drops of vaccine on the tongue and place a permanent purple mark the little finger.
The third day the teams went house- to- house, mainly in the more deprived areas of Delhi, immunising those that could not get to the booths.
John also had the opportunity to visit some of the local Rotary humanitarian projects, three examples:
 the school for underprivileged children where Rotary are partly financing the education and monitoring the children’s academic progress
 the Rotary Diabetic Centre, where residents are positively encouraged to visit to have the required tests
 the Rotary hospital wards with a marvellous dedicated surgeon working a long day performing miracles in getting polio victims walking again. “I could not fail to be touched when seeing these children.”
The strong support from Rotary means it’s keeping its promise to the world’s children to eradicate polio.

posted: Saturday, 4 February 2017

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