Monday, 28 October 2019

A Polio Milestone is Reached

Polio and the attempts to eradicate it are making headlines and it was therefore fitting that Lucille Blumberg, our resident expert on all matters microbiology and deputy director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, was the speaker at the meeting last week.
     Thursday was World Polio Day, a day where Rotarians all over the world are asked to redouble their efforts in helping to eradicate the disease from the face of the earth.
Lucille Blumberg speaks and Graham Donet and Julian Nagy listen
     It was fitting therefore that the World Health Organisation could announce on Thursday that wild poliovirus Type 2 has now been permanently eliminated, the second strain to be eliminated after wild poliovirus Type 1 was announced to be eliminated in 2015.
     Lucille sketched the background of the polio eradication campaign and emphasised that Africa is now polio free, after the last remaining country, Nigeria, was declared so three years ago.
     Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two remaining countries where wild poliovirus 3 is still present. There were 88 reported cases last year. In Pakistan the new prime minister, ex-cricketer Imran Khan, has made eradication a top priority of his government and agreed to spearhead the campaign himself.
Lucille with Monica Kiwanuka, Zena Kimaro and Susan Kasango
     The situation is more troubled in Afghanistan, where the Taliban initially banned immunisation campaigns, but has now reneged and allows it in clinics, but not in mosques or door-to-door.
     Lucille said Rotary and partner organisations such as the WHO and the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation had already spent more than $2 billion on vaccination and oversight campaigns and that this would continue.
     She said that although South Africa had been declared polio-free after the last case was reported in 1988, the country had temporarily lost its status because of inadequate oversight. This has now been reversed.
The official certificate
    There is significant opposition to vaccination efforts in many parts of the world, especially in more remote areas.
    The polio virus is transmitted from person to person through water and therefore most acute in areas with poor sanitation.
     The most difficult phase for the total eradication of polio is still ahead, but Rotary International along with other organisations are determined to see the battle through.
Susan Kasango talks about her life with polio
     Susan Kasango, a Kenyan by birth, was at the meeting to tell about her life with polio. She was infected as a child of of 5 years old and says she doesn't know of life without polio.
     She has spoken about her experiences all over the world and said her message is invariably that no-one can make you feel inadequate if you don't allow them to.
Morningside Rotarians Denise Cruickshank, Jack Stroucken and Dr Brian Barron with President Judy Sligcher
     New Dawn has consistently contributed to the RI End Polio Now campaign with a donation of at least $1000 a year, one of the few clubs in the district to do so. This year part of that contribution  was made in the form of a donation on behalf of the club by PDG David Grant after his very successful fundraising dinner at the Balalaika Hotel in July. The contents of the polio campaign money boxes will also help.
DG Maurice Stander, President Judy Sligcher and President-elect Ian Widdop
     The meeting was also graced by the presence of a group from the Rotary Club of Morningside, who sponsored the founding of New Dawn 10 years ago.
     Terry Mackey, president of the club, said it was his first ever visit to New Dawn and that he and his members were happy to be a part of the meeting.
     The members who visited were Terry, Jack Stroucken, Les Hudson, Brian Barrow, Richard Clowes and Denise Cruikshank.
Paul Kasango, Karlien Kruger, Terry Mackey, Ian Widdop, Chris Stander and Maurice Stander
     Also present were District Governor Maurice and District Governor Ann Chrisna Stander, who were in town for more meetings with clubs on their rounds of all the clubs in the district. They visited Johannesburg North Central on Monday evening and Monica Kiwanuka, president of that club, also attended our meeting.
Jack Stroucken, Les Hudsonand Denise Cruikshank with PDG Jankees Sligcher
Graham Donet, Frank Odenthal and I at the meeting
     Ian Widdop reported that he and Jenine Coetzer had spent time in Daveyton the previous week for a project for mobile libraries he has become interested in. Tadasaki Hasunuma, a retired Sony executive, has already imported 60 of an allowance of 100 Toyota vans which are used for the books and is servicing township schools. These vans are by law not allowed to be used beyond 60 000 km in Japan and he can then import them into South Africa at a much reduced price.
     It's a project that fits in well with  a number of our efforts and Ian has pledged to pursue it.
     Amongst their "assets" is a group of 38 self-styled Gogos who help kids with reading, making them an ideal vehicle through which The Link can expand into townships.
Karlien Kruger with Dr Nobs Motjuwadi of Copessa
     Karlien Kruger paid a visit to Copessa in Soweto last week after offering to help them sort out logistical problems and HR needs.
     Karlien reports that it became clear to her that Copessa needs help with their strategy, process and structure and has undertaken to write a proposal for what she feels they need to be able to help them help themselves.
     Members will remember that Dr Nobs addressed the club a while ago and made a great impression when she shattered a wine glass to illustrate the effect of abuse on children, homes and society at large.

One of Copessa's projects delivers vegetables to Pick n Pay
     Karlien says she was shown around a number of Copessa projects including beading, embroidery, sewing, a pre-school centre, after school care and a vegetable garden which supplies Pick n Pay.
     They have also established safe playgrounds for children, but are frustrated by vandalism aimed at these amenities.
Quiz maestros Karlien Kruger, Paul Kasango, Joan and Graham Donet and Linda and I at the Rotary Club of Johannesburgs' Quiz Night
     Karlien joined Paul Kasango, the Donets and the Vink's for the Johannesburg Club sponsored inter-club quiz night last Friday. We thought we'd done quite well, but only the name of the winning club, Sandton, was announced and not any of the second, third fourth, etc places.
     The Quiz night was well attended and fun, in true Rotary fashion.
     There will be time to catch our collective breath at the meeting this week and start finalising arrangements for all the upcoming events, chiefly the Golf Day on 8 November and the Christmas dinner on 4 December.
     There's still much work to be done for the Golf Day as Mike MacDonald reminded us last week and we really do need more prizes and bottles of wine, spirits and beer for the barrow(s) of booze.
     In the meanwhile, start thinking of what you can contribute to the Christmas/Festive Season Dinner in the form of d├ęcor, food or worthy items for the traditional auction.
     A Thought for the Week: Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn. - Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

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