President Bob with the End Polio Now team in India

In January 2017, President Bob McKinnon took part in Rotary's End Polio Now immunisation programme in India. Here is his account of his experiences.

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50 Rotarian volunteers from 10 countries gathered in New Delhi and were then split up into
teams of 3 or 4 volunteers. The team I was with was made up of 1 American, 1 Canadian,
1 New Zealander and myself and we were assigned to Agra District some 200 kms from New
Delhi.

The first day was mtaken up with talks from doctors, nurses and people from WHO on the history
of polio in India and the need to keep it at bay at all costs.

The second day, accompanied by a doctor ( who carried the ampoules of vaccine in a cool box)
and two district nurses we set off to visit shanty towns and slum areas where children are not usually
registered when they are born, due to poverty, and are therefore off the radar when it comes to health treatment.  Cosequently, they are at risk of missing the necessary vaccination and immunisation programmes.  In the first town we went to we were confronted by a few hundred mothers with babies and very young children who were then given the polio vaccine and the MMR injections. Each volunteer probably immunised around 30 small children and babies. It was a very humbling and rewarding experience and we were made very welcome by all the mothers ,aunts, grandmothers etc.

This was repeated over the next two days and rounded off with a Polio rally in Agra with the banner  'Good-Bye Polio Thanks Rotary'.  Over the three days we each probably immunised around 120 small children.There is special Polio Immunisation Day on 29th January when all over India over 2.5 million small children will be immunised against Polio.

We also visited some schools and Rotary colleges to see lessons in hygiene an self awareness of the need for cleanliness at all times to avoid infections. We also visited a medical school and met young trainee doctors and sat in on one of their lectures and had tea with them during at break.

A very interesting visit and apart from the unhappy ending for me well worth the effort made by us all to help in this way and we all came away feeling that we had contributed, only in a small way, to the End Polio Now campaign.