October 18th 2021
Today’s Speaker is Katrina Buckley on Men’s Aid
Forthcoming Speakers and Events
Oct 25th Public holiday – no meeting
Nov 1st Business meeting
Nov 6th & 7th Visit by members of the Rotary Club Bonn. Nov 8th Shabnam Vasisht - Digging up the Raj in Deansgrange cemetery.
Nov 15th Dr Richard Conway – Disorders of the immune systems – a mystery
Nov 22nd The Egyptian Ambassador
Dec 6th Special General Meeting
Dec 13th Christmas lunch
May 2022, Copenhagen Rotary Club: Premio Leonardo da Vinci weekend.
President Alexander was in the chair at our last meeting.
Visitors and Apologies
At last week’s meeting we had 22 members in attendance.
Apologies were received from 16 members as follows: Sinem Balta; Frank Bannister; Caroline Barnardo; Emmanuel Barra; PP Michael Carroll; IPP Alan Davidson; Ola El-Garawany; Patrick Fanning; Randal Gray; Dorothy Hannon; PP Tony Keegan; Hon Treas Dermot Knight; PP Mariandy Lennon; Kevin McAnallen; Derek Bell; Patrick White.
There were 3 guests in attendance as follows: Cormac Trant (who was then inducted as a Member), Rotarian Nasir Barakzai from London and Rotarian Yvan Wittenberg from Paris.
Induction of a new member.
Like waiting for a bus, you wait an hour and then three come along at once. President Alexander was happy to be able to induct our third new member in a matter of a few weeks. First, after the lockdown we had Vasily, then two weeks ago Ola El- Garawany and last week it was the turn of our youngest member, Cormac Trant who has had an interesting life in accountancy and IT.
PP Brian George made the welcoming speech and highlighted the incredible worldwide reach of Rotary International and what being a member of Rotary meant to him. There are so many projects to get involved in and you get an enormous feeling of satisfaction when any of them work out well.
Thought for the Day
The thought for the day was given by Ethna Fitzgerald. She said there had been huge ramifications of the Covid for all sorts of people. It left anger, violence, frustration, financial difficulties and sheer bad manners. As Rotarians we lead by example. At the end of two years of lockdown and restrictions we need to remember to be patient for a little bit longer, to be kind and respectful. This includes how we work with The Grand Canal Hotel to give us a pleasurable meal.
Rotary Rangers’ Schedule
October 19th Fananerrin Ridge, Glenmalure Valley October 26th Black Hill & Sorrel, West Wicklow.
Hoping that you will make an effort to support these walks with your presence.
President Alexander informed us that he had attended to the 50th anniversary lunch of Inner Wheel last Tuesday. 50 years on and there were actually two of the founding members at the lunch. He announced that a Halloween Party is to take place in the Merrion Inn on 31 Oct and will be organised by PP Mariandy. Finally, he invited us all to Zoom in to the joint meeting that evening between Bonn, Tours and ourselves, when there retired army general would be giving a talk ‘The threat from China’.
Members Wishing to Speak
PP Tom O'Neill announced a Unique Rugby occasion when Connacht meet Ulster at the Aviva later this month. Details of match and social have been circulated. Anyone interested please contact Tom O'Neill before next Monday for tickets at €50 each.
PE David announced details of Bonn visit and sought assistance with airport collection, joining with visitors at Guinness Storehouse, walk around town, transport to Newgrange and return to the airport for the 13 visitors who are expected from Bonn.
VP Delma announced a correction to the Dubliner regarding the fundraiser for the Samaritans. The amount raised was €1,020 and a grant will be applied for from District.
Mary O'Rafferty announced that she had visited Transition Year students at St Louis' School on three occasions and is hopeful of establishing an Interact Club there.
Speaker for the Day
Our speaker last week was our own David Booth who had been asked by Roger to give the first of a series of talks with the idea of telling us more about the work of Rotary Foundation. David chose to talk about Polio Plus and where it is heading.
There were two lions walking through a supermarket. One says to the other ‘Quiet today, isn’t it?
On the polio front it looks pretty quiet too, but is it really? Why are we still collecting money for the Polio Plus campaign?
What’s the background? Well, smallpox was declared to be eradicated in 1980. One year earlier a Rotary club in Makati in the Philippines arranged for drops of POLIO vaccine to be administered to children and Rotary’s campaign to eradicate the disease started. Could polio join the list of diseases that no longer scar planet earth?
In 1985 the campaign was named POLIO PLUS and now through decades of commitment by Rotary and our partners 2.5 billion children have received the oral polio vaccine. We’re 99% there but we can’t stop till the job is finished and polio is eradicated for ever.
The name of the game is ‘VACCINATE’ and Rotary’s slogan is TOGETHER WE WILL END POLIO.
Probably the easiest way to understand what’s going on is to look at the past, present and future of the POLIO PLUS campaign.
David remembered two boys in his primary school had paralysed limbs due to polio. It could have been any of us. Did any of you see the wonderful black documentary film maker, Ade Adepitan, who travelled through Africa in his wheelchair. He has made an inspirational video for Rotary about the eradication of Polio in Africa which seemed to be within our grasp in 2015.Then two cases emerged in northern Nigeria and efforts were redoubled and then the heart-warming moment when in 2018 Africa was declared free of Polio.
THE NUMBERS FROM THE PAST
1988 125 countries had polio, 350,000 cases a year, that’s 1000 children getting polio every day.
2000 20 countries had polio, 719 cases a year.
Polio was quickly eradicated in Europe and North America, then in South America and Asia. The real game-changer was when The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation agreed to match every dollar Rotary collected with 2 dollars of theirs.
Rotary raises € 50 million a year for Polio Plus which is matched by € 100 million from the Gates Foundation. What’s the PLUS for? While vaccinating for polio why not vaccinate for other diseases? They talk of the COLD CHAIN. Vaccines have to be kept at between 2 and 8 degrees C and while they are being transported why not add other vaccines to the truck?
1. Measles 4. Whooping Cough
2. Tuberculosis 5. Tetanus
And other things like vitamin A supplements. Those are all a plus. And they make up the PLUS in POLIO PLUS.
There are 4 major challenges which Polio plus faces: Instability/Community Apathy/ Accountability / Missed children
The programme takes a big step backward when aid workers are killed as they have been in Pakistan and Nigeria. Sometimes it’s necessary to give them police protection and only stay in an area for 1 or 2 days at a time.
To promote local ownership of the eradication effort they used the slogan in Afghanistan ‘
‘ENDING POLIO IS MY RESPONSIBILITY’ and work with local health clinics
In Afghanistan they have appointed district immunisation managers to drive the campaign forward. In Pakistan Rotary has launched a network of polio resource centres to promote routine immunisation of newborns and infants, create awareness about polio and build confidence about the vaccine
In 2012 military leaders in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan banned polio immunisations and because of conflict there many families fled. They now have mobile clinics at bus stations and all major railway stations and at all border checkpoints where they reach 800 – 1000 children daily. Recently Pakistan agreed to immunise children at points set up in the international terminal at airports.
If we fail to eradicate polio we could be looking at a resurgence of 200,000 new cases a year and all that work would be undone. The future, however, is bright because of the network of clinics, laboratories and community healthcare workers which have been sponsored by Rotary and which have been monitoring communities for years and will continue to do so.
‘Doctor, doctor, I’ve hurt my arm in several places’
‘Well, don’t go there anymore!’
What are the places we shouldn’t go to if we don’t want to see the horrible effects of polio? Pakistan and Afghanistan. These are the last places on earth where wild polio still exists. It’s critical that the vaccination programme continues in all the surrounding countries of the last holdouts of the disease so that if the virus gets out its spread will be minimised.
In January last year the Covid 19 GENOME was made public, just 1 month after a new respiratory illness was reported in Wuhan in China. Days later, Moderna had completed the design of the proto type molecule that would comprise its vaccine. 62 days after that, on March 16th, human trials began. On Dec 8th Maggie Keenan, a 91 year old Briton received the first Pfizer vaccine.
By comparison, the vaccine against Polio in America took 20 years to make the journey from trials to licence. We’re getting better at the science. We can certainly knock out polio and be even quicker at reacting to any disease that raises its ugly head in the future.
With the end of the war in Afghanistan maybe those holding out against the polio vaccine there and in Pakistan can be persuaded to consider vaccination as their best options for eradicating this debilitating disease.
If there is anything else you need to know about Rotary’s fight against Polio, Roger Owens is your man. He has done a highly impressive amount of research on the workings of Foundation and he started filling us in on the complexities and rarity of catching polio from the vaccine (is it called ‘vaccine polio’?) as opposed to catching it the usual way (from water or human contact, known as ‘wild polio’), but sadly we ran out of time and we await further enlightenment on another occasion.