This morning started early as we headed out to join Japanese Rotarians and Indian health workers as they left for their rounds, going house to house in some of the lower income neighborhoods in Delhi to ensure that every single child is vaccinated.
Japanese Rotarians gathering for the house-to-house follow-up.
With a television crew in tow, Dr. Mona Khanna attracted quite a crowd. Even with the attention, we were able to see children getting their drops.
Dr. Mona Khanna administers polio vaccine.
After spending the morning going house-to-house, we spent the afternoon going office to office to interview leaders in the war on polio. Our first stop was a visit to the office of Anuradha Gupta, the Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
She earned an MBA in Australia and her business mind really came through in our discussion. She played a critical role in snuffing out the last bit of polio in India. When she took the job in 2009, India had more than 700 cases of polio. By 2010, the country had fewer than 100. The last case was reported in January 2011.
Photo: Devin Thorpe, Dr. Mona Khanna, Anuradha Gupta, Michelle Kloempken of Rotary
Afterward, we went to see Raja Saboo, who served as the President of Rotary International in 1991-92. He was in South Africa for the end of apartheid. As a director of Rotary International in the early 1980’s, he was involved in the early discussions and the decision to pursue polio immunizations as Rotary’s global effort.
Finally, we visited St. Stephen’s Hospital here in New Delhi, to visit a rare polio corrective surgery ward. Children who suffer from polio, of course, end up paralyzed. Poor children who end up paralyzed, learn to get around by crawling. That practice tends to create deformities in their legs that can only be corrected surgically. With proper treatment, many kids who get around by crawling can ultimately be enabled to walk, sometimes unaided, though often with braces or crutches.
Photo: Dr. Mona Khanna, Dr. Matthew Vargese and one of his polio patients.