Poliomyelitis still strikes children, mainly under the age of 5 years. Historically polio has been the world’s largest cause of disability.

Because there is no cure for polio the best cure is prevention and for as little as US$0.60 worth of vaccine a child can be protected from the crippling disease for life.

For more than 20 years Rotary has led the private sector in eradication of polio.

In addition to financial and volunteer support, Rotary urges support from government and private sector partners.

So far Rotary has raised $200 million towards eradication and this has been matched by grants from the Gates Foundation of $355 million.

In 1985 two-thirds of the world still had polio sufferers, including parts of North America. The disease is now reduced to India, a small part of Africa and Afghanistan. Rotary hopes to rid the world of polio by 2012.

Recently Yamba Rotarians Nerida Dufficy, Chris Muldoon and Nerida’s husband John visited India as part of a volunteer Rotary International PolioPlus program with the idea of ridding the world of polio.

They joined a group from within Rotary’s District 9640 for the project.

India’s District Immunisation day was February 7 and the group visited the very remote area of Nagarjuna Sagar, travelling 7 hours from the City of Hyderabad in the state of Andhra Pradesh. 

In the lead-up to this day Hyderabad Rotary Club with the support of India PolioPlus Committee had extensively publicised the event in all forms of media and the Yamba group were taken to underprivileged residents who made their children available for the bivalent oral vaccine.

The children in this area are part of remote fishing villages that live under their family’s upturned fishing vessels.

Nagarjuna Sagar is located in central east India. Overall the program has ensured more than 1 million children were immunised in the state.