Sid Valley Rotarian’s trip to help immunise Indian children against polio
- Credit: Archant
A Sid Valley Rotarian will join 90 volunteers from clubs across Great Britain and Ireland to immunise 170million Indian children against polio in a single day.
Past president Sally Wilcox is flying out today (Friday) with boyfriend Paul Watkins to work alongside local volunteers in Delhi, Kolkata, Bhiwadi, Amritsar and surrounding high-risk villages to protect youngsters from the crippling and sometimes fatal disease.
The work will include house-to-house visits for impoverished families who cannot travel to the vaccination booths.
Sally, 58, said the extra help will makes a huge difference, adding: “Rotarians and other volunteers go out twice a year to help reach as many children as possible.
“There are other regular vaccination events, but these larger national immunisation days draw huge numbers of children and families. Visiting Rotarians have a curiosity value which attracts children in the slums and remote villages who do not meet many British people.
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“India is polio free, but this does not mean our job is over. We want to keep India’s children safe from polio and will keep immunising every child to spare them from a life of disabilities and pain.”
Station Road resident Sally is self-funding her trip and said: “Although hugely rewarding, this will not be an easy trip. We will see startling sights of poverty, people literally in gutters trying to make a living and people who have been crippled by polio and can barely crawl, let alone walk.
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“The knowledge that we are helping others to have a better life, through End Polio Now and other active Rotary projects, keeps everyone motivated.
“We see with our own eyes just how important it is to keep on immunising these children and bring back the message that this is a vital job.”
The immunisation drive is part of Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign. Thanks to Rotary’s efforts, the number of endemic countries has dropped from 125 to three: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
India has been declared polio free, but there is always the threat of re-infection from migrant workers and people seeking refuge from war-torn countries who may be carrying the virus and it is critical to maintain ongoing high levels of vaccination take up.
Contact the Rotary Club of Sid Valley for more information at www.sidvalleyrotary.co.uk.