Polio immunization rally in Moradabad

The team at a polio immunization rally in Moradabad, India.

By Richard Rivkin, assistant governor of District 6440 and past president of the Rotary Club of Northbrook, Illinois, USA.

After worming our way through the narrow streets of Moradabad, a small city in Uttar Pradesh, India, a local doctor brought us by foot to the End Polio Now rally which had already begun.

As part of a team of 20 Rotarians from districts 6440 (Illinois, USA), 6270 (Wisconsin, USA), 5650 (Nebraska, USA), and 1070 (England), we are in India this week to immunize hundreds of children in the Moradabad area and participate in a Polio Summit Conference 25-26 February involving Rotary leadership, government and health ministry leaders from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and surrounding countries.

Words are inadequate to describe the rally. We marched about a mile plus with people yelling, microphones blaring, and people waving. This was all to raise awareness of Sunday, when we will be doing the immunizations. The emotions were overwhelming. There were several hundreds of people in this rally.

After the march, there was a ceremony in the park. Then we were taken to one of many slum areas in this city. The squatters “survive” by collecting rags and plastic bags that are purchased by a local company who recycles them. Once again Rotary has stepped in by providing a health clinic twice a week to immunize and take care of the health of these incredibly poor people. They treat worms, lice, and many common infections.

Back to the hotel for a quick change of clothing and then more ceremony at the local Rotary meeting of two of the 15 clubs in Moradabad. We were honored and lauded for coming from so far to help these people fight polio. The state of Uttar Pradesh used to have the most cases of polio, and now there has not been an active case of the crippling disease in Moradabad for two years and three months. 

Adapted from nid2012India, where you can read an ongoing account of the NID team.

5 thoughts on “Polio immunization rally in Moradabad

  1. I have had the opportunity to attend a NIDS back in 2004, and still remember the sights and sounds and the great feeling of being able to help some kids avoid a dreaded disease. I am very proud of the Rotarians from 6270 who joined in this adventure.

    Nancy Rhodes, DG 6270

  2. Rotarians from districts in California (District 5240, 5320, 5330, & 5300), Washington (Districts 5100 & 5030), Arizona (District 5500), and Ireland (District 1160) were also in India for the NID held last month. Our team was lead by my DG classmate, PDG Anil Garg (D5240) who did a fantastic job of organizing our trip! The 27 members of our team fanned out from New Delhi to participate in polio vaccination rallies in Rampur, Bareilly, and Badayan. We also witnessed and participate in the vaccination of children in rural villages near those communities as well as in New Delhi. The highlight of the Badayun rally that I participated in was witnessing octogenarian PDG Herb Trumpoldt (District 5320) literally dancing in the streets to promote polio immunization. Our presence in India for the NID provided moral support to those Indians who have worked so hard ensure that the children are vaccinated against polio and, since we stood out, brought attention to the immunization day.

    I have been in other developing countries, but this was my first trip to India. I was again struck by how industrious and hardworking people who live at subsistence level are and have to be to survive. This experience provided me with a greater appreciation for the impact that we Rotarians are making through our efforts to eradicate polio. As a physician, I have given children immunizations in the past, but this was special!!

    Our NID team also had a contingent at the Polio Summit. We interacted with members of the NID Team from Illinois (Hi all!!) as well as Rotarians from Europe, India, England, and other parts of the world. Representatives from all of the endemic countries were present. The highlight of the summit was when the announcement came that Dr. Bruce Aylward had delivered a letter from Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, that India is no longer on the list of polio endemic countries.

    India has set an example for the three remaining endemic countries and to the rest of the world that polio can be eradicated. Congratulations to the government of India and the Indian people, but especially to the Indian Rotarians and WHO, UNICEF, and Indian health care workers who have all worked so hard to make India polio free!!!

    Dennis J. Wickham, MD, PDG

  3. I led our District’s first NID adventure in 2009 and will never forget the thankful faces – esp of one dad who was clad in white. He gleamed as his daughter (or son) was fed a drop or so. There were so many kids.

    It was very touching and utterly unforgettable.

    Gone are the bad memories of the poor roads (camels and 18 wheelers) and the hours of travel over such short distances.

    Present is that paternal smile.

    Jim Berg, PDG (’03-’04)
    D 5840

  4. Great work Rick, This visit of Rotary team in India will be remembered by our District 6440 for a long time.
    Would like to know more about this visit, the pictures you took and the Rotary clubs you met……where can I read more about this?

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