Our greatest gift to future generations

Hussey and children in Nigeria

Ann Lee Hussey and children in Nigeria

By Ann Lee Hussey, a member of the Rotary Club of Portland Sunrise, Maine, USA

Polio can affect children anywhere. The poliovirus doesn’t discriminate based on geography, skin color, or religion. If we don’t eradicate polio now, the world could see cases rebound to 200,000 new cases every year, within 10 years.

I’ve participated in 27 immunization campaigns, leading 23, throughout Africa and Asia, not because I’m a polio survivor, but because I believe polio eradication will be one of our greatest gifts to future generations. Continue reading

Why surveillance is so important to polio eradication

Surveillance workers

Amina Ismail, right, checks appointment registers for cases of polio – an essential part of surveillance efforts to trace this devastating disease. WHO/L.Dore

By Michael Zaffran, director of polio eradication for the World Health Organization

In a small health clinic in Tharaka Nithi, Kenya, Amina Ismail pours over a register documenting all of the doctors’ appointments from recent months, a nurse by her side. She is checking every record for symptoms of polio – the sudden onset, floppy arms and legs that signify acute flaccid paralysis.

As they work, she checks that the nurse knows what the symptoms are, and that she knows what she has to do if a child with acute flaccid paralysis is brought to the clinic. This detailed surveillance for polio, working hand in hand with those who know their communities best of all, has been the linchpin of the work of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). Continue reading

Building a better tomorrow for youth of Kenya

Class beside new bathrooms

The author with Kenyan students and their teacher in front of the new bathrooms provided by Rotary.

By Sarah Rolfing

No matter how many times I visit the slum in Nairobi or the poverty-stricken schools in the outskirts of the city, I’m not prepared for the feeling of despair that follows. Basic human rights, such as educational opportunity and access to healthcare, are constantly upended by poverty in many regions of Kenya. Children are often the most vulnerable, and the impact on education and the advancement of society is significant.

Lack of resources should not compromise the right to education, particularly in a society that has considerable disparities in wealth. Since 2013, the Rotary Club of Sumner, Washington, USA, has partnered with low-income schools in Southern Kenya to provide bathroom facilities for students with special needs. Lack of basic sanitation at schools across the region is common, negatively impacting health, hygiene, and attendance. Poor health makes education an afterthought, and Rotary’s investment in creating healthy environments for students in Kenya is impacting thousands on a daily basis. Continue reading

Bringing digital X-ray technology to those in need

X-ray clinic

A mother and her child in one of the remote clinics in Guatemala.

By Carlos Frum, past governor of District 6440 and a member of the Rotary Club of Northbrook, Illinois, USA

The line went around the block and people were still coming! It was 2003 and my first trip to Guatemala as a translator for a medical team. Upon my return, I realized that we have no idea in the United States how difficult it is for people in poor countries to get basic health care. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that two thirds of the world’s population doesn’t even have access to simple X-rays.

After several more trips, I resolved, with two other past governors from Rotary District 6440, to do something about this. Bruce Baumberger, Pam Kerr, and I started a project to install 29 digital X-ray systems in remote clinics in Guatemala. We called it HealthRays™. Continue reading

WHO’s new director of polio eradication: the end is in sight

Michel ZaffranIn February, Michel Zaffran will take over as director of polio eradication for the World Health Organization (WHO). Most recently, Zaffran has served as coordinator of WHO’s Expanded Programme on Immunization. He has also served as Deputy Executive Secretary of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI), and  represented WHO on the working group that designed and launched GAVI. We caught up with him recently to ask his thoughts about this new challenge:

I am extremely excited, but also emotionally very moved, to have been selected for this position. I started working for the World Health Organization in September of 1987 in the immunization program. A few months later in May the World Health Assembly endorsed the resolution to actually eradicate polio. I was just at a very junior level but remember seeing my bosses work on the resolution, and so I was there from the very beginning. So to actually toward the end of my career be coming back and heading the program for its last miles basically is very exciting and very moving. Continue reading

5 amazing projects on Rotary Showcase

Rotary members in Tamil Nadu, India, disburse supplies to people affected by flooding.

Rotary members in Tamil Nadu, India, hand out supplies to people affected by flooding. Read more below.

New Zealand Rotary members are putting food on the tables of low-income families this holiday season by teaming up with the Salvation Army to collect and distribute fresh produce from local growers.

Starting several years ago, the Rotary Club of Drury, Auckland, New Zealand, annually contacts growers to set up a time in mid-December to collect produce for distribution, and then coordinates with the Salvation Army. The club lines up three large trucks, each with a crew of three Rotary members, to drive to different regions to collect the produce, which the Salvation Army then distributes to families during the holidays. Continue reading

How your year-end gift to the Foundation does a world of good

Students at their desks

Students sit at new desks that were provided through a grant organized by the Rotary Clubs of Bikaner, Rajasthan, India, and Kennebunk Portside, Maine, USA

By Rotary Voices staff

There’s still time to make your year-end gift to The Rotary Foundation. Here are a few ways that your support is helping to change lives all over the world: Continue reading

5 reasons to give to The Rotary Foundation

Polio immunization activities in Ethiopia. Your generous giving supports our work to rid the world of polio.

Polio immunization in Ethiopia. Your generous giving supports our work to rid the world of polio.

By Rotary Voices staff

When you make a donation to The Rotary Foundation, you are helping Rotary members make a difference in the lives of millions of people around the world, by promoting peace, preventing disease, bolstering economic development, and providing clean water and sanitation.

Here are just a few ways your generosity is changing lives. Continue reading

Meet the Miles to End polio team

Last year's team mugs for the camera.

Last year’s team mugs for the camera.

John HewkoBy John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary

On 21 November, Rotary staff members and I will join Arizona Rotary members to bike up to 104 miles in El Tour de Tucson to raise funds for polio eradication.

The event is one of the top cycling events in the U.S., attracting more than 9,000 cyclists each year. We are aiming to raise $3.4 million, which will be tripled by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a total of more than $10 million for the fight to end polio. Continue reading

Visiting polio immunization booths on the border of Nepal

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By Sujan Pradhan

In June, members of my Rotary Club of Kakarvitta, Jhapa, Nepal, inspected 15 polio immunization booths around the municipality of Mechinagar, on the border of Nepal and India. The Nepal PolioPlus Committee had declared a National Immunization Day on 23 May, but due to the major earthquake in April, our inspection was postponed to early June. We visited booths from urban areas to far rural areas, and distributed banners, pamphlets, and water bottles to the volunteers at each booth. Continue reading