Pakistan polio vaccination trip ‘incredible’
Despite her activities being curtailed by a severe tummy bug and a nightmare journey back to New Zealand from Pakistan because of that, Matamata Rotary member Michelle Tanner says her 11-day trip was just incredible.
The Pakistani people were so grateful to Tanner for coming over to help vaccinate children against polio, and speak at various events, that they literally rolled out the red carpet for her.
‘‘I don’t think Princess Diana could have expected more,’’ Tanner said of the welcoming committee, complete with television crews and cheering school children.
She downplays her actions, calling them simple. She wasn’t expecting any fuss.
Tanner said she was the only New Zealand Rotarian to visit Pakistan this year to help with polio vaccinations.
Another six Rotarians, four from Holland and two from Italy, were also vaccinating children with her some of the time.
She said Pakistan felt isolated from a lot of help from the Western world in fighting to get on top of the polio epidemic.
Tanner vaccinated children in some interesting places. A group of Rotarians vaccinated 300 children with drops of the live polio virus in the Lahore zoo.
She was also walked through trains at a train station and vaccinated children who didn’t have a purple ink mark on their finger. A purple ink mark symbolises the child has been vaccinated and will stay on the child’s finger for a month.
Currently children are vaccinated every month but the World Health Organisation says this will have to change to an injection of the non-live virus at the regular immunisations.
She spoke at Greenwich University and various seminars and conferences based around polio.
After her trip, Tanner feels more informed about polio and the issues in Pakistan.
She is looking opportunities to talk about it in Matamata.
She expects her own Matamata Rotary club will be booking her in to speak to them soon.
Tanner was invited to Pakistan after the immunisation education facilitator at Auckland University made a presentation on Rotary’s role in immunising against polio and wrote an article for a medical journal which was seen by an overseas Rotarian. forward to the to various groups