Rotary’s polio mission

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MEMBERS of Mirfield Rotary group visited an Indian state as part of the organisation’s drive to eradicate a debilitating disease.

Mirfield Rotarians Chris and John Philip, and Barbara White, travelled to the city of Delhi in Uttar Pradesh, North East India, to immunise as many children as possible against polio.

Their visit was part of Rotary International’s project to try and stamp out the disease, which causes deformities and muscle weaknesses.

They were part of a group of 20 from different countries who went out to help Rotarians from the area administer vaccines to children. The vaccine is just two drops on the tongue.

Chris, who is Yorkshire Rotary’s polio officer, said: “Polio is only a plane ride away. Unless Polio is completely eradicated, a lone case can threaten the well being of any child anywhere in the world. There are now only four countries where Polio is endemic - North East India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. We really do stand at the threshold of a polio free world – just the last push will hopefully the long hoped goal.

“Four years ago, I went to India to take part in a National Immunisation Day (NID). During National Immunisation Days, about 179 million children under five receive the vaccine. I was overwhelmed by the commitment of my Rotary colleagues who in partnership with the Government, mobilised communities set up booths and transported vaccines. Since then I have led three groups of Rotary volunteers to India.

“It was a huge privilege to lead this team. It was a life-changing experience.”

Rotary has been involved in the campaign to eradicate Polio since 1985.