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ROTARIAN Guy Parkinson and his wife Gill will be travelling to India to help immunise thousands of children against polio this month, supporting National Immunisation Day.
Guy, a retired local veterinary surgeon and a member of the Rotary Club of Frome Selwood, and Gill will be joining a group of 106 Rotary volunteers from across Great Britain and Ireland. They will also be joined by other Rotary International members from Belgium, Luxemburg, USA and Japan to help with the immunisation of children across the country.
India was declared free from polio in 2014, however there is still the real risk of re-infection from the cases found in nearby Pakistan, and therefore it is essential that high levels of immunisation are maintained until this disease is eliminated from the world.
Guy, who is travelling to India with the project for his first time said, “It is incredible to think that since making the pledge in 1985 to eradicate polio, Rotarians have pulled together to combat the disease all over the world. Travelling to India and working with fellow Rotarians illustrates how important it is to be involved in community projects that are not just in this country.”
In 1985 Rotary made a promise to eradicate polio from the world. At that time there were over 125 endemic countries. Now there are just two; Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 1988 there were an estimated 380,000 cases of polio worldwide; last year there were just 72. There is no cure so it must be eradicated to avoid the possibility of it again becoming endemic.
The aim of this year’s National Immunisation Day in India is to vaccinate over 172 million children under the age of five, nearly three times the size of the UK population. In order to do so, International Rotarian volunteers will be placed to assist the local Rotary members, in Delhi, Kolkata, Ludhiana, Bhidawi and Karnal. Guy and Gill will be going to 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.
Guy said, “It’s important that we don’t lose momentum if we are going to beat this disease. The large group of Rotarians travelling out this year illustrates that we are still as passionate as ever. If you want to make a difference, you could join your local Rotary club or donate.”