KAREN'S POLIO STORY

One of our members, Karen Sutton, went out to India in 2010 to help with a mass innoculation programme against Polio. This is a SubNational Mass Innoculation programme which plans to innoculate 5 million children over several days. The reports below are her description of what is happening. The reports are in date order, starting with the latest:

Monday 15th November

Hi All, Today was very different to yesterday.... rather than vaccinating in booths we were physically going house to house in the poorest areas checking if there were any children that hadn't been vaccinated. There was no running water or electricity here .... barely clothes to wear, no education, mazes and labyrinths of narrow passage ways with lots of doors to tiny houses, sewage running under your feet in exposed drains . . . it's been simply horrific. I've attached a handful of photos again . . . you will see from these what kind of area we were in today. It was completely random too; some groups went to relatively decent areas (not to UK standards, but certainly Delhi). 401 shows 3 boys that followed us around all morning through the tiny passage ways. 761 you can clearly see the drains ...
What has been extremely positive is the energy and determination of local medical centres, Rotary, UNICEF and doctors to ensure the vaccination of every child. It almost seems impossible to control where the children are and how many and even what age...
some of the parents don't know how old their children are as they don't have a concept of time so don't have a clue when each month passes. Yet, the medics seem to know where they all are and track them by writing numbers and marks on their front doors. We also visited a hospital today and it was lovely to see the Rotary badge everywhere. Plaques on the walls, badges on ambulances etc ...

There are over 200 Clubs in the Delhi area and because Indian Rotarians are generally extremely wealthy, there are many that give a huge amount through their clubs to local projects. The Blood donation centre in this hospital is also supported by Rotary Foundation. That's enough from me now. I'm travelling to Varanasi tomorrow to be a tourist again but before that, please tune in to BBC Radio Surrey for my broadcast at 7.40am tomorrow (Tues).
You may not hear from me again (some people will ;-) so see you all when I'm back. Karen x

Friday 12th Nov.

Morning all, I'll send out a shorter email later, but thought you would appreciate a bit more detail! Having been woken at 5.30am by the porter asking if I wanted my luggage to be taken away (No I didn't!) I decided to get up anyway.... We had briefing yesterday which was nothing less than organised chaos, however about 50% of our group have been out before for the same NID so most people seem to already know what they are doing. I don't think I realised how vast these NIDs are and actually how little Rotary's involvement is at least "on the ground"... Most of the financial support comes from us, as does the Social Mobilisation, but to give you an idea, in Lucknow alone there will be 1800 booths set up each being manned by 3 people. Rotary are manning just 10 of those booths for this NID. Other supports comes from local organisations, UNICEF, WHO and government. The Social Mobilisation is about bringing innovative ideas to generate awareness and support to the public.
Comic books (I have a sample), Video vans, banners, posters, PR campaigns, school rallies are a few of the things that have been done to achieve this. Just 4 years ago the case reported in Males were 75% of the total cases simply because families hid their children (if boys) on the assumption was that the vaccine caused infertility. Now cases are 50/50 across gender. The only issue now is religion/class. Only 17% of the population are Muslim, but over 70% of reported cases are Muslim which isn't expected to be due to religion as such, more so that the Muslim community seems to be poorer here which is why they now do the "mop up day" so we go out to reach targeted communities. NIDs are happening every 8 weeks here in 3 locations..... It appears that the UK Rotarians come out twice a year, other countries getting involved for other NIDs. It is the intension that every child is immunised on every NID, some having the vaccine up to 28 times before they reach the age of 5. The reason they immunise only under 5s seems to be due to the number of reported cases.
All cases in India are diagnosed under 5, 99% being under 3. We are leaving this morning for a Press Launch of S-NID (no idea what the S stands for!) at Chief Minister of Delhi's house. Yes I'll take photos Pauline... ! The rest of the day we apparently free to tour Delhi ....

Last night.

We decided to go out for a meal and we got Tut-tuts to the restaurant which was quite an experience .... they look like these ... However, our journey back was even more interesting .. private chauffeur courtesy of the local constabulary! We came out of the restaurant, stepped out into the traffic (as you apparently do here; death wish or not...)
and they stopped, bundled us in and took us back to the hotel!
Yes, we have photos! Right, must get ready .... breakfast in 45mins!

Saturday 13th November

I don't think what I have experienced and taken part in today is physically possible to put into words .... we spent the morning in the slums of southern New Delhi travelling around approx 6 different booths. I personally administered about 300 vaccines mostly in areas of extreme poverty that unless you've witnessed yourself you could never comprehend. We're are off tomorrow to do "mop up" which basically means visiting the homes (if you can call them homes !) of the families that didn't come to the booths, identifiable but the lack of a "purple pinky"..... I'm done talking, I'll let the attached speak for themselves. Karen