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Rotarians Help Fight Polio in India

23 December 2009 – Immediate

Two members of the Rotary Club of Canterbury have recently returned from India where they took part in a mass exercise to help inoculate millions of Indian children to end the scourge of poliomyelitis (Polio).

Rotarians Caroline Lees and Sidney Denham, along with Sidney’s wife Evelyne (corr), joined a party of nearly a hundred Rotarians from the UK who were taking part in the Indian NID (National Immunisation Day) – part of Rotary’s PolioPlus campaign to eradicate polio worldwide.  The Rotarians were helping target up to 65 million children living in the regions of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi where Polio is still endemic.

Caroline and Sidney were joined by Suzanne Taylor-Warren of the Canterbury Sunrise Rotary Club and the group was located in the slums of the Indian capital, Delhi.  On one occasion they were operating under the watchful eye of the Delhi Region Minister of Health.

Canterbury Rotarians Group in Delhi for India National Immunisation Day. 
(From left) Will Taylor Warren; Canterbury Rotarian, Sidney Denham;
Evelyne Denham; Canterbury Rotarian, Caroline Lees;
Canterbury Sunrise Rotarian, Suzanne Taylor-Warren

The Rotarians were able to provide the vaccine for hundreds of children during the day.  Sidney Denham said: “The Canterbury Group was operating in a “booth” in the Delhi suburbs and we vaccinated 350 plus in the space of two hours”.  He added: “The vaccination, costing only a few pence and consisting of two drops placed on the tongue of children from a few weeks old up to the age of 5, will help protect them for life from this terrible disease.”

Canterbury Rotarian, Caroline Lees, administering two drops of vaccine on the tongue of a young Indian child.

In the days following the NID, the Rotarians went house-to house visiting to ensure no children were missed and found many still needing to be vaccinated.  Caroline Lees said: “Even though the cases of polio are falling in India it’s very important to keep the focus and continue the immunisation programme due to the poor conditions in which some of the population live.”  She added: “Meeting local people in their own communities and seeing how important they believe it is for their children to be protected makes you realise how lucky we are in the UK where we take so many things like healthcare for granted.”

Caroline and Sidney say their experience in India, although hard work was worth it because they had potentially helped save many hundreds of children from catching polio.

Notes for editors:
There are three Rotary Clubs associated with the City of Canterbury.  The oldest is the Rotary Club of Canterbury and meets on Tuesdays, mostly at lunchtime.  The newest club is the Rotary Club of Canterbury Sunrise and meets at 0700 on Wednesday mornings.  The third club is the Rotary Club of Forest of Blean and meets on Monday evenings.

For more information about Polio Plus:

  Click to download PDF version of Press Release



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