Rotary International's India National PolioPlus Committee:

The war against Polio continues… but the victory is now in sight !

The crippling disease that held the world to ransom in the 1950's and 1960's has almost been eliminated with those two tiny drops of oral polio vaccine, a well thought out strategy, large financial resources and the dedication and commitment of thousands of devoted volunteers and international health agencies.

Rotary International is the volunteer arm of a global partnership dedicated to eradicating polio. In 1985, Rotary volunteers around the world embraced the fight against polio and 'POLIOPLUS' was born.

Till date, the PolioPlus programme has contributed US $ 610 million for the protection of more than two billion children. By 2007 the end of the programme, Rotary's contribution will touch more than US$650 million apart from the manpower, materials and individual support provided by 1.2 million Rotarians world wide.

Television stations in Pakistan are helping to monitor immunization days so children, like this baby in Peshawar, receive the polio vaccine. Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/WHO.

Rotarians working to eradicate polio in Pakistan have a new partner in the fight: the media. State-run and private television stations and a cell phone company are part of a network helping to monitor and promote immunization campaigns.

During the country's National Immunization Days (NIDs) 16-18 March, seven television stations participated in a "Polio Control Cell" based at the Pakistan Television Centre in Islamabad. The stations promoted a toll-free number that listeners throughout the country could call to report any areas that health workers had missed.

"All the calls were responded to immediately by a team of volunteers, who contacted authorities to dispatch vaccinators to the missed areas," says Shakil Hasan Ansari, a member of the Southeast Asia Regional PolioPlus Committee and past governor of District 3270.

Ambassadorial Scholar takes part in immunization efforts in India

By Peter Schmidtke
Rotary International News -- 22 July 2009

Ambassadorial Scholar Esha Chhabra helps immunize children against polio during a February NID in India. Photo by Umar Khan

Most Ambassadorial Scholars wait until their scholarship year to get involved in service projects through Rotary. Not Esha Chhabra.

She volunteered for a National Immunization Day (NID) in India and spoke to schools and Rotary clubs in District 5240 (California, USA) about polio eradication before she even started master's-level coursework at the London School of Economics.

"Once I applied for the scholarship, I started attending Rotary club meetings, and I slowly began to understand what Rotary does," says Chhabra, 22, who was born in Delhi, India, but grew up in California. "I asked our district governor when he'd be taking the next team on an NID, and I said, Sign me up!"

Chhabra and two District 5240 Rotarians went to India in February and spent two days helping local Rotary clubs and international agencies, including UNICEF, vaccinate infants and children in Uttar Pradesh. Staying with host Rotarians, Chhabra also toured Rotary club projects in Delhi, including a blood bank

Although she had traveled to India to visit family, her NID service was the first humanitarian work she performed there.

"It gave development work a human face," says Chhabra, who is using her scholarship to study global politics and international development. "You walk away feeling connected to these people and their communities."

After returning to the United States, Chhabra wrote an editorial for a local newspaper and organized a free, communitywide screening of The Final Inch, a documentary about polio eradication work in India. She hopes to participate in another NID next year.

Click to watch:

Rotary Polio Eradication

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