Congrats Rtns of
#Nigeria on being declared polio free by WHO &having names removed from list of endemic countries.@Rotary@EndPolioNow
India reported its last case of polio in 2011. Since then, the toddler behind that statistic has grown into a child who laughs, plays, and runs, albeit with a limp. Past RI President Rajendra K. Saboo is gratified that no other children will be afflicted with the disease in his native country. “But you still see a few, above ages 12 and 13, and one starts feeling, ‘We came too late for them,’” he says. This inspires everyone to remain committed to keeping the poliovirus at bay, Saboo notes, especially with the risk of the disease’s return just a border-crossing away.
The lessons and partnerships that have emerged in the decades of halting polio’s spread in India have left a legacy: a cadre of trained health workers with skills in disease surveillance, education, collaboration, and care – and they are already being redeployed to address other health and social needs.
The battle against polio in India never was the single focus of the campaign there, notes Jay Wenger, director for polio eradication at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which since 2007 has invested more than $1.5 billion to help end the disease, with another $1.8 billion committed through 2018. “While the national network collected polio information from across the country, we used the infrastructure for other things,” says Wenger, whose résumé includes a five-year stint as project manager of the World Health Organization’s National Polio Surveillance Project, based in the New Delhi area. “When bird flu came up, we got a call from the Indian government to figure it out. Later they asked if we could help them find out how many measles cases there were. This is a major way in which the polio program has helped.”
One of Rotary’s key roles in ending polio in India was advocacy, says Sunil Bahl, medical officer for polio eradication with the WHO Southeast Asia Regional Office. “Rotary had a voice that would be heard by the government,” he says. “If any challenges were highlighted, Rotary was there to ensure there was some solution to overcome them.” Rotary’s voice is still vital, Bahl says, especially in Mission Indradhanush (“Rainbow”), which the Indian government and its partners initiated to target seven vaccine-preventable illnesses: diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, childhood tuberculosis, hepatitis B, measles, and polio. Their goal is to expand immunizations to all children by 2020.
Rotary supported the first phase of the endeavor, from April through July, by working to promote vaccinations in 201 of India’s highest-risk administrative districts. That effort aimed to reduce by half the nine million babies, out of the approximately 27 million born every year in India, who do not receive these critical immunizations. “We estimate that one of every three does not get all seven vaccines by the age of one year,” Bahl says........
My passion for working with youth at an international level first blossomed during my time with the Peace Corps in Kenya. I served as a Deaf education volunteer from 2006 to 2008 at Gede Special School in Coast Province.
While I was not aware then of the significance Rotary would later have in my life, the school was built by the Rotary Club of Malindi, Kenya, a few months before my arrival. Gede serves not only students whoare Deaf but also those who have physical and cognitive disabilities such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and even polio.
Living and teaching in Kenya was an incredibly meaningful journey that I continue to learn from and reflect on, even today. I miss the mamas at the village cafe, the beauty of the Indian Ocean, and most importantly, my former students.
My love of biking flourished when I moved to Chicago after the Peace Corps. I bought a road bike from Ciclo Urbano, a West Side bicycle shop that supports local at-risk youth through its earn-a-bike summer program. I used this as my sole mode of transportation and quickly learned the necessity of avoiding Chicago’s numerous potholes and car doors along the way. A few years later, I met my now husband, and our mutual love of bikes easily solidified our relationship. In fact, we even got engaged at the top of a mountain during a bike ride in Crested Butte, Colorado — an incredibly romantic event until I had my first-ever bike crash soon after. Now, I find myself riding long distances on the weekends, discovering new trails, and roadtripping with my bike always in tow.
After six years of working in Chicago schools, I made the decision to return to my Peace Corps roots and continue working with youth worldwide. Little did I know the Rotary wheel painted on the wall of my Kenyan classroom had foreshadowed my professional future! Rotary International has been a perfect fit for my interests. As the senior specialist for Youth Exchange, I work with district leaders to support Rotary Youth Exchange students during one of the most eye-opening, adventurous years of their lives. As a member of the RI staff Miles to End Polio team, I am able to build fellowship with like-minded colleagues and push myself in different ways than I can when riding on my own.
To me, Service Above Self means being generous with my time, opening my mind to new experiences, and putting others’ comfort before my own. What better testament to Rotary’s mission than biking 104 miles to end polio? When the Tucson hills loom ahead this November, I will draw strength from my time in Kenya and think of the students at Gede. I will remember Sidi’s smile, Zawadi’s dancing, and Kupata’s storytelling. And I will keep on pedaling through the pain.
- Rotary Voices
In Syria, where a civil war has been raging since 2011, more than 6,000 people flee the country every day. As of September, more than 4.1 million people have become refugees, and 7.6 million more have been internally displaced.
“The plight of Syria’s refugees is a litmus test for the world's compassion,” says Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko. “Rotary members worldwide are profoundly disheartened by the refugee crisis now unfolding in Syria and other parts of the world,” which the United Nations has described as the worst in decades.
“Rotary is following the situation closely,” Hewko says. “We know our members have an inherent desire to act, to relieve the suffering and uncertainty that displaced individuals and families are facing. We call on you to respond as Rotarians have for more than 100 years: to use your professional skills and acumen, leverage your connections to other leaders, and mobilize your local communities to provide the necessary resources and funding to address the humanitarian crisis.”
Rotary members can donate to the disaster relief efforts of our project partner ShelterBox. The organization has supported the Syrian relief effort for close to four years and is working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to distribute relief materials. ShelterBox is also working with communities in Greece and parts of Turkey to provide transitional housing and supplies to displaced people passing through these regions in an effort to reach other countries in Europe.
Rachel Harvey, a member of a ShelterBox response team that recently returned from Greece, says Syrian refugees are making dangerous crossings to the shores of Greece.
As many as 2,000 people arrive daily on Lesbos’ northern beaches, says Harvey, referring to a Greek island in the Aegean Sea off the Turkish coast. The trip from Turkey to Greece usually takes about an hour and a half. “The flimsy rubber dinghies are invariably overcrowded, and the majority of passengers can’t swim,” she says.
Harvey adds: "The experience is terrifying. Another trauma added to the layers that many of the displaced have accumulated through war in Syria or South Sudan, insecurity in Afghanistan or Pakistan. One man told me: 'It was a nightmare. I don’t know how we got through that trip,' ” she says.
Says Hewko: “We appreciate our clubs and members for their support, helping the millions of displaced people find shelter and rebuild their lives and communities. Every refugee is in our hearts and minds.”
"While he joins other Nigerians and the global community in celebrating Nigeria's removal from the list of polio-endemic countries, President Buhari urges continued vigilance to ensure that Nigeria maintains this new status.
"The President directs all government ministries, departments and agencies involved in the polio eradication effort to remain proactively engaged and on guard against the re-emergence of the polio virus in Nigeria", said the statement.
Buhari further assured the WHO and the global community that the Federal Government would ensure that immunisation and surveillance activities continue across Nigeria to keep the country polio-free........
......President, Rotary International, K.R. Ravindran, also said "Rotary congratulates Nigeria on its tremendous accomplishment in stopping polio. On behalf of the entire Global Polio Eradication Initiative, we thank volunteers, health workers and parents in communities across Nigeria for their tireless commitment to ensuring every last child is protected against this devastating disease. In the months ahead, their dedication will remain as important as ever, as we work to keep Nigeria polio-free and to eliminate polio from its final strongholds in Pakistan and Afghanistan."
"This is a significant milestone for the global polio eradication effort and the health workers, government and religious leaders and partners should be proud of this accomplishment. While the progress in Nigeria should be celebrated, it is also fragile. It is critical that Nigeria goes two more years without a case of polio which will require the support of partners, increased accountability at all levels of the program led by President Buhari, and increased domestic funding commitments" Chris Elias, President, Global Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation noted.
On his part, Executive Director, UNICEF, Anthony Lake, said "The removal of Nigeria from the list of polio-endemic countries is a major victory for Nigeria's children. It is a testament to the commitment and dedication of the Government of Nigeria, local leaders, and front line workers. And it is proof positive that if we work together in partnership to reach every community and immunize every child, we can finish the job of eradicating this evil disease everywhere, once and for all."
Rotary and ONE, an international advocacy organization, joined other event partners in downtown Chicago on 24 September to demonstrate a commitment to ending extreme poverty and inequality and to promoting action on climate change on the eve of the United Nations launch of its Sustainable Development Goals.
The 17 ambitious goals constitute a road map for finding solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, and dovetail with Rotary members’ work to create positive change in their communities and around the world. As dusk fell over Chicago, participants in the Under One Sky event held up blue lights, transforming the plaza where they were gathered into a field of fireflies to #LightTheWay to a more just world.
“This is a great opportunity for people to network and join an event where we are all focused on creating a better world,” said Cheryl McIntyre, president of the Rotary Club of Chicago.
Julie Bordo, a district representative for ONE.org, noted that Rotary and ONE are more effective when they work together.
“We have very similar goals, and when we put our collective efforts together, it allows us to reach more people in addressing these incredibly important issues,” she said.
Under One Sky Chicago was one of more than 40 such events planned in the United States and more than 150 around the world. Other cities that hosted them include Sydney, New Delhi, Johannesburg, São Paulo, and New York.
- Arnold R. Grahl, Rotary International
Nigeria has successfully stopped transmission of polio in the country, the World Health Organization said Friday, a milestone in a longstanding push to eradicate the disease globally.
Nigeria’s success leaves just two countries—Pakistan and Afghanistan—where transmission of wild poliovirus, the cause of most cases of polio, has never been stopped.
But eliminating the virus from those two countries is enormously challenging, and leaders of the polio eradication effort said Friday that they had pushed back their goal for global eradication by one year, to 2019, and would need to raise $1.5 billion to meet it.
Just three years ago, Nigeria looked like the last place that would eliminate polio, a highly infectious and potentially fatal disease that invades the nervous system and paralyzed 1,000 children a day as late as the 1980s.
Africa’s most populous country recorded more than half of all of the polio cases world-wide in 2012, and polio regularly spilled over its borders. Over nearly a decade, it was the source of cases or outbreaks in 25 countries that had already been declared polio-free.
But pressure from international leaders of the polio-eradication movement led Nigeria’s government to intensify its efforts.
The government, working with international organizations and local leaders, sent more than 200,000 vaccinators to immunize more than 45 million children under 5 years old, used new Global Positioning System mapping technologies to track down children who hadn’t been immunized, and opened emergency-operations centers to manage vaccination campaigns.
Haram arrived and found ways to get vaccinators in and out of areas quickly once the Islamist militant group moved in. They also set up “health camps” offering treatment for common maladies such as malaria and diarrheal diseases along with polio vaccine.
The strategy brought out “children who would otherwise be hidden at home,” said Tunji Funsho, chair of Rotary International’s PolioPlus program in Nigeria. “That changed the game” in some northern Nigerian areas, he said.
As a result, Nigeria hasn’t recorded a case of polio caused by wild poliovirus since July 2014, according to the WHO. And the last recorded case of wild poliovirus in all of Africa occurred in August 2014 in Somalia.........
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