Honoring Salk and Sabin by finishing the job of ending polio

Dr. John L. Sever discusses the origins of PolioPlus in this video recorded last year.

The following is an excerpt of an address given by Dr. Sever, vice chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee, to the Innovations in Healthcare Symposium 23 October in New York, held to honor Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin for World Polio Day and the 100th anniversary of Salk’s birth.

I had the pleasure of knowing both Dr. Salk and Dr. Sabin through our mutual participation at medical meetings, and when they would visit me at my offices and laboratories at the National Institutes of Health.

I remember in particular a medical meeting in Miami Beach, Florida, in the 1960s at which Dr. Sabin and I were both speakers. On the first morning of the meeting, my wife and I came down for breakfast. Dr. Sabin was sitting alone and invited us to join him. Continue reading

Ebola puts dream to educate Liberian children on hold

Samuel Enders with students from the African Dream Academy.

Samuel Enders with students from the African Dream Academy.

By Samuel R. Enders, Rotary Club of Yonkers-East Yonkers, New York, USA

Having grown up in poverty in Liberia, West Africa, I know firsthand both the dire need for better educational opportunities in that country and the empowerment that a quality education provides. I experienced the death of my father when I was just two months old and struggled to survive through the country’s bloody civil war that ravaged the economy, infrastructure, and people.

In 2005, I founded African Dream Academy (ADA) to help Liberia’s youth escape the iron grip of poverty. We have provided counseling to thousands of children in two week intervals several times a year, and in 2012, opened our first fully academic school where we teach 140 children in classes from nursery through fourth grade.  Continue reading

Medical training team saves lives in Gujrat

Specialists on the vocational training team review patient reports.

Specialists on the vocational training team review patient reports.

By Parimal Naik, grants coordinator for the Rotary Club of Gandevi, India

Our Rotary club is located in the southern part of Gujrat State, India. Earlier this year, we had the incredible experience of hosting a series of medical camps, screening  thousands of community members for medical conditions and following up with life-saving surgeries.

A vocational training team of visiting specialists from the Association of Indian Physicians of Northern Ohio (AIPNO) performed 30 angiography procedures, 27 echocardiograms, 11 angioplasty procedures, seven heart bypass surgeries, eight chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and three surgeries to remove cancerous tumors. The project we envisioned as a medical pilgrimage clearly accomplished its goal of changing lives in our local community. Continue reading

Monrovia Rotary Club spearheads Ebola relief campaign

Photo courtesy of Wilson Idahor, Rotary Club of Monrovia

Photo courtesy of Wilson Idahor, Rotary Club of Monrovia

By Monique Cooper-Liverpool, Rotary Club of Monrovia, Liberia

We are just past the five-month anniversary of Liberia’s first encounter with the Ebola virus. We are more than 40 days into a declared national health emergency, a month into a national state of emergency, and on the third week of an imposed national curfew, the first since our civil conflict ended in 2003. Nine international airlines have cancelled or suspended service to Liberia, with only two international carriers continuing to operate, overbooked and overpriced. Continue reading

Rotarians are a powerful force for polio eradication

A child is immunized against polio.

A child is immunized against polio.

By Steve Crane, a member of the Rotary Club of Seattle, Washington, USA, and a polio survivor. Crane has been appointed district polio eradication advocacy chair by successive governors in District 5030.

Rotary members are being asked if recent headlines mean there is some doubt about ending polio for good. Our answer is that the end of polio in India is the headline to remember.

We are at the heart of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a partnership of Rotary International, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and many national governments. Rotary has contributed $1.3 billion to the GPEI through PolioPlus. And it is committed to adding up to $105 million per year over the next four years through the End Polio Now: Make History Today campaign.  Continue reading

Providing women the Right to Go in rural India

A woman stands in front of her toilet block in Sogav, India.

A woman stands in front of her toilet block in Sogav, India.

By Atul Bhide, immediate past president of the Rotary Club of Thane Hills, India

Less than 80 kilometers (49.6 miles) from the urban centers of Mumbai and Thane, India, lies the village of Sogav in Shahapur Taluka. Here, like in many villages in India, women and girls face the daily indignity of having to walk miles in the early hours to find a safe and discreet place to relieve themselves.

A simple bodily need that many of us take for granted exposes these women and children to hygiene and safety risks every day. It is a difficult situation under normal circumstances, but when these women experience any kind of sickness or health concern, their experience becomes appalling. Continue reading

Lessons learned from a heart attack

Larry Goodwin on his boat.

Larry Goodwin on his boat.

By Larry Goodwin, past president of the Rotary Club of Palm Desert, California, USA

This recent Fourth of July, I had a close call which taught me a valuable lesson. I share the story hoping it will help others.

The day began like other holidays have, with me fiddling around my boat, when I began having trouble breathing and felt a pain in my chest. It wasn’t that hot out but I was already sweating. Sitting in the shade didn’t help, or drinking a bottle of water, or sipping on a Coke either. Continue reading

The earth is a nice place to live because of Rotarians

Bharath Reddy during his Group Study Exchange.

Bharath Reddy during his Group Study Exchange in 2006-07.

By Bharath Reddy, a past district governor and member of the Rotary Club of Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, India

In 2006-07, I took part in a Group Study Exchange to Missouri in the United States, where I learned and trained with other professionals in my field.

During the exchange, I sharpened my leadership skills and made lifetime friends. It also helped me to build a bridge of friendship between Rotary members in India and the Midwest region of the United States, which has resulted in doing more community service projects and making everyone say, “The earth is a nice place to live because of Rotarians.” Continue reading

Biking against hunger

By Benjamin Rasmus, a member of the Rotary Club of Seattle-International District, Washington, USA, and program director for Rotary First Harvest

Hunger exists across America.

Roughly 50 million Americans face hunger everyday.Simultaneously, there is incredible food waste — 130 billion pounds of edible food is wasted every year. Often highly nutritious produce is tossed because of cosmetic imperfections or market variations. Many Americans mistakenly believe food insecurity is a problem confined to developing countries. However, hunger is a serious issue facing families from Seattle, Washington, to Washington D.C., and everywhere in-between. Continue reading

Fifth birthday and beyond

John Hewko

John Hewko

By John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary

Beginning 23 June, Rotary will join 37 NGOs, non-profits, philanthropies and businesses in supporting the 5th Birthday and Beyond celebration that recognizes the leading role the U.S. government plays in improving children’s health worldwide.

And believe me, there is much to celebrate, especially the incredible improvement in childhood mortality rates over the past quarter century. Experts tell us that in 2014, six million fewer children will die before their fifth birthday than was the case 25 years ago. Continue reading