Couple visit India to help immunise thousands of children against polio

Indian children who took part in the National Immunisation Day.
Indian children who took part in the National Immunisation Day.

Most couples are attracted to India by the beautiful beaches, spicy food and colourful culture.

But for Sleaford couple John and Jane Gibson, their primary aim was to support an ongoing campaign to immunise thousands of children against polio.

Mr and Mrs Gibson, at the Taj Mahal

Mr and Mrs Gibson, at the Taj Mahal

Mr Gibson, of Sleaford Kesteven Rotary Club, and Mrs Gibson, of Sleaford Kesteven Inner Wheel, joined a group of 106 volunteers from across the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Luxemburg, USA, Canada and Japan to help with the immunisation of children.

The couple even administered the vaccine to a number of children themselves. After all the hard work, they had time for a quick spot of sight-seeing before they left.

Mr Gibson said: “It was incredible to think that, since making the pledge in 1985 to eradicate polio, Rotarians have pulled together to combat the disease all over the world.

“Travelling to India and working with fellow Rotarians illustrates how important it is to be involved in community projects that are not just on your doorstep.”

A Rotary club spokesman said: “Although the country was declared free from the disease in 2014, there is still the real risk of reinfection from the cases found in nearby Pakistan, so it’s essential that high levels of immunisation are maintained.”

The aim of this year’s campaign was to vaccinate more than 172 million children under the age of five – nearly three times the size of the UK population.

In order to do so, the Rotary office in Delhi allocated five locations where the international Rotarian volunteers were placed to assist the local members.

The immunisation, which is administered by two drops on the tongue, can be carried out by someone with no medical experience, and is crucial to keeping polio at bay.

Rotary hopes to continue to send out volunteers until the immunisation is replaced with an injection.

Mr Gibson added: “It was very important that we did not lose momentum if we are going to beat this disease and the large group of Rotarians travelling out this year illustrates that we are still as passionate as ever.”