The following story was reported in a recent email Newsletter from End Polio Now.-- Ellen Young
By Amy Young - Senior Coordinator

Pakistan remains one of the final reservoirs in the world where the wild polio virus circulates unrestrained. One of the major challenges to eliminating the virus are the misperceptions and mistrust that persist in high risk areas of the country, places where access to basic health services and education is limited. Rotarians are helping to address these misperceptions through the implementation of health camps, where families can receive polio drops, health services, sanitary and medical supplies and important educational materials. This is having an important effect on the program, helping to drive demand for the polio vaccine and developing a public health infrastructure and leaving a legacy that will endure long after the last polio case has been reported.

As community members and volunteers, Rotarians are particularly well placed to support these health camps in the polio affected communities. Rotary clubs in Pakistan provide the volunteer support for the health camps, helping to educate and raise awareness among the population and serving as monitors to ensure the quality and impact of the campaigns. Rotarians also provide funds for the medical supplies, such as first aid kits, medicines, and soaps that are distributed to families.   These are organized through Rotary-funded resource centers, working with local NGOS to implement the projects and gain the trust and support of the local population. Some of the typical treatments offered at health camps include HIV tests, TB, Malaria, cancer screenings and basic surgical treatments. Patients needing more advanced support are referred to relevant hospitals.
Rotarians also utilize health camps as an opportunity to conduct outreach within neighboring schools, holding sessions on health and hygiene and providing educational materials such as comic books, pencils, and first aid materials to reinforce the messages. Rotarians have developed a speaking book that teaches children about hygiene and helps educate them about the importance of polio drops. Teachers in every school are trained so they can further share these messages with students long after the volunteers have left.

Through involvement with local community member, innovative approaches like health camps are one of many ways Rotarians are seeking to make a difference in the health of vulnerable communities within Pakistan. Not only will this help to reach children with vital polio drops, it will also set a standard for public health that will continue to shape these communities for years to come. Rotarians in Pakistan have put their commitment to action in the places where it matters most, and they continue to make a difference, not only the fight against polio, but in improving health for children everywhere.