To commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s anniversary and his vision for a Leprosy-Free India, Rotary International District 3011 together with Delhi Fellowship for Cycling to Serve and Delhi Public School conducted a mega cycle rally to raise awareness about Leprosy and Polio in the august presence of Vice Chairman and Director of Education, NDMC.
It’s been over a decade since the last case was detected in 2011 and 8 years to India being declared Polio-free by World Health Organization in 2014. However, in recent months, over 27 incidents of wild poliovirus have re-emerged from different parts of the world including – Afghanistan (2), Pakistan (19) and Mozambique (6). The detection of poliovirus, and even cases of Polio, in places where it hasn’t been found for years has demonstrated once again that eradicating a human disease isn’t easy, especially in the final stages. Rotary members along with its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) have been at the center of the worldwide effort to eradicate Polio for more than three decades.
Addressing the participants, Deepak Kapur, Chairman, Rotary International’s National PolioPlus Committee, said, “The re-emergence of polio in these places highlights the importance of vaccination as the only form of protection against Polio and many other diseases. It draws attention to the work needed to encourage people to get vaccinated at a time when vaccination rates are dropping in some communities. And it reinforces the fact that Polio anywhere is a threat everywhere, which underscores the importance of the End Polio Now campaign.”
At the rally, Rotary members also raised awareness about Leprosy, one of the oldest known, chronic infectious diseases, which can lead to deformity and disability, if not treated on time. There were 1,27,558 new Leprosy cases detected in 2020-21, out of which approximately 60 per cent of cases accounted from India. Leprosy is curable and becomes non-communicable with just a few doses of MDT.
Speaking at the event, RI District 3011 Governor, Rtn Ashok Kantoor said, “As part of this initiative, Rotary members are contributing about Rs. 30 lakhs to support our fight against Polio across the world. Rotary has been a key driving force, working for Polio elimination across the world.
Rotary’s global network, infrastructure and learnings from Polio can be utilized for leprosy control and elimination. We have realized that there is a lot of misinformation regarding Leprosy, particularly with respect to its perceived incurability, which results to social exclusion and stigma of patients, making their plight even more deplorable. It is important that there is awareness amongst the public about its treatment and curability. To develop this understanding among the changemakers of tomorrow, the goal of this rally was to create awareness among them from an early age, prevent prejudice and spread awareness regarding both these diseases.”
Shri Satish Upadhaya, Vice Chairman, North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) said, “I laud the work being done by the Rotary Clubs in fighting Polio and now in creating awareness around Leprosy. Only with this knowledge will the ostracization of patients end, allowing them to live a life of dignity and security. The work being done by Rotary Clubs and its partners in knowledge dissemination is vital and is aligned with the Government’s mission of eliminating Leprosy from India by 2030. I am sure that going forward, this initiative will continue to grow and positively impact Leprosy patients, their families, and the larger community.” He pledged NDMC’s commitment to join hands with Rotary Clubs in their battle against Leprosy.
Congratulating the District, Sh. Himanshu Gupta, Director of Education, said, “It’s a privilege and an honour to be a part of this awareness rally and I congratulate Rotary for tackling these issues of national importance.”
The lead clubs that participated in the rally were Rotary Club of Delhi South (RCDS) and Rotary Club of Delhi Regency Next. Also present at the occasion were eminent guests like Dr Ritu Choudhary, State Leprosy Officer, Ms Padma Srinivasan, Principal, Delhi Public School RK Puram, Dr. N Subramanian, District Advisor Leprosy, District Advisor Polio along with representatives from LEPRA and ACRE.
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