Producers Stuart Cleland and Kate Benzschawel, and photographer Alyce Henson, members of RI’s Broadcast Media Department, are spending 18 days in Africa documenting Rotary projects. The first half of their journey is in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), which held National Immunization Days beginning 26 April. The nation’s last case of polio occurred in July 2011. Cleland filed this post.
Monday, 22 April, was our first full day in Abidjan. The main part of it was a visit to the offices of the World Health Organization or, as it’s called here in French-speaking Côte d’Ivoire, Organisation mondiale de la Santé (OMS).
There we interviewed the top man, Dr. Allaranger Yokouide. He spoke glowingly of his organization’s partnership with the partners, saying that the bond among WHO, RI, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is so close that “we speak as one.” He emphasized that for polio eradication to become a reality, three interest groups – “the population, especially families; the government; and the GPEI partners” – must work toward the same goal.
On Tuesday we saw two examples of how those groups do indeed work together. In the morning we visited the Institut Nationale d’Hygiène Publique, in Côte d’Ivoire the second link in the famous “cold chain.” It’s a government facility where the polio vaccine – shipped from Mumbai, India – rests in super-cold freezers prior to being delivered to satellite depots throughout the country. In the hours before the National Immunization Day, the vaccine makes its final journey, to the neighborhood booths where city kids are dosed, and to the portable coolers of volunteers who visit isolated or hard-to-reach communities and homes.
Later in the day, Rotarians and other supporters gathered at an outdoor media event where Marie-Irène Richmond Ahoua, President of the Commission Nationale PolioPlus and member of the Rotary Club of Abidjan-Biétry, proudly handed over Rotary-funded motorcycles, bicycles, shirts, hats and flyers to Minister of Health Dr. Raymonde Goudou Coffie. The minister donned a PolioPlus cap and applauded Rotary for supplying both the ways to publicize the immunization day and the means by which the vaccine will reach – and protect – the children of her country.
- Learn more about Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio.
- Join the effort to make the World’s Biggest Commercial.
- Read about the Global Vaccine Summit and download the 2013-18 Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan
- Find ways you can help Rotary advocate for a polio free world.
- Contribute to End Polio Now.