On World Polio Day, more than 4,000 Rotary clubs in 136 countries hosted around 6,000 events to celebrate and raise funds to root out polio from the world. INPPC chair PDG Deepak Kapur and DG Sanjiv Rai Mehra flagged off the Ride to End Polio cycle rally organised by RID 3011 in New Delhi.
Africa being declared polio-free is a great achievement made possible by the dedication and persistence of Rotary and its global partners.
— M Pavan Kumar
president, RC Kakinada, RID 3020
Despite Covid restrictions, there was an overwhelming response from Rotarians to the End Polio rally. “We received more than 500 registrations, but had to curtail the number of participants to only 125, because of Covid restrictions,” said district secretary Mohit Anand Bhatia. An additional 100 Rotarians from various clubs in the district were present to cheer the cyclists at the flag-off and various pitstops. At every pitstop, the clubs in the region came forward and handed out cheques towards the Polio Fund with RID 3011 collecting $10,000 towards this fund. Cyclists were seen sporting End Polio Now t-shirts and caps in the 30km rally that ended at the India Gate, New Delhi.
Addressing the gathering, Sanjiv Mehra said, “India is polio-free for the last ten years. But we have to be on our guards and create awareness about keeping the country polio-free as our two neighbouring countries — Pakistan and Afghanistan — are still polio endemic and there is always a danger of transmission. We must participate with enthusiasm in all the polio NIDs and help in administering the two life-saving polio drops to all children below five years.”
With safety norms insisting on ‘stay home, stay safe’ we had a tough job deciding what impactful activity we could do on World Polio Day.
— Ashwani Kinger
president, RC Bangalore Brigades, RID 3190
In 2014, India was declared polio-free by the WHO after three years of reporting nil cases and now Africa has received such a certificate in August 2020. “Africa being declared polio-free is a great achievement made possible by the dedication and persistence of Rotary and its global partners. This year we celebrate a polio-free Africa, and hope to rid the world of polio soon,” said Pavan Kumar M, president, RC Kakinada, RID 3020. His club flagged off a car rally to mark World Polio Day. Rotarians visited a village, Boddu Chinna Venkatayapalem, near Kakinada, and conducted a polio awareness programme followed by the distribution of immunity-boosting medicines for children. The awareness programme was sponsored by polio chair Dr Shahzad Ali who expressed his disappointment “that the pandemic has forced immunisation efforts to stop. All we can do at this point is to create awareness and help strengthen the immune system of children.”
To create an impact and awareness on polio in the community RC Dehradun, RID 3080, conducted a Vintage Car Rally and a cycle rally. Forty cyclists from the Dehradun Cycling Club participated in the event alongside Rotarians. The vintage cars were decorated with polio awareness banners and the cyclists too displayed placards highlighting polio awareness. Bright umbrellas with the Rotary Wheel and End Polio Now logo were distributed to roadside vendors.
RC Kangra, RID 3070, conducted two cycling rallies on Oct 23–24 to celebrate World Polio Day. The event saw a participation of 50 members with all sanitation and hygiene protocols in check. RC Bangalore Brigades, RID 3190, marked World Polio Day with an awareness campaign in 37 villages in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Ashwani Kinger, club president, said “with safety norms insisting on ‘stay home, stay safe’ we had a tough job deciding what impactful activity we could do on World Polio Day. We decided to reach out to the rural population and create awareness.”
Alongside RC Kanakapura, RID 3190, and RC United Chennai, RID 3232, Rotaract Clubs of Bangalore Golden Rocks and School of Ancient Wisdom, Ramaiah Institute of Management Studies, Presidency College, AIIMS Institute of Higher Education, and Subhash Chandra Bose School took up awareness campaigns. Posters and placards were made and displayed in local languages, followed by street plays sensitising people on the importance of immunisation. The clubs also conducted a follow-up campaign before the National Immunisation Day.
A Walk to End Polio, an event by RC Kasargod, RID 3202, helped create polio awareness in the city. Rotarians walked through residential areas and slums to sensitise people. The rally was flagged off by Mahin Kunil, a polio survivor from Kasargod.