Polio Eradication – the Good, the Bad, the Ugly and (mostly) the INSPIRING…

World Polio Day a time to reflect, resolve and respond

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I have now been putting my time, dedication, passion and energy into polio eradication since almost this day in 2011 when my colleague at Global Poverty Project said they wanted someone to work with a famous former Indian cricketer on polio advocacy for the Australian cricketing summer of 2011/12.

To be very honest all I heard from that conversation was – cricket, summer and cricket.

with Chandra, Seema & Swami Army (Indian cricketing and polio supporters)

with Chandra, Seema & Swami Army (Indian cricketing and polio supporters)

Up until that point in my life I have been working for over 10 years in aid and development in some form and particularly education and global awareness. After accepting the exciting offer of taking on the cricket gig I then thought – hang on, what’s polio?

As someone who was born 6 years after the last case of polio in Australia, which was in 1972, what did I know about polio? I had a vague recollection of something called an iron lung, something to do with Rotary and had seen people in the streets of developing countries where I had lived and volunteered in who would push themselves around on the ground with bits of rubber car tire stopping abrasion with their skin and the ground.

pakistani girl lahore slumWhat I did know deep down inside is that polio represented global injustice and inequality that I have always been passionate about and tried to address. I mean how could I be born into a polio-free country more than 30 years ago and that there are still children today without that same simple luxury.

So since November 2011 I have happily dedicated my life to advocating to see the global eradication of polio. It certainly hasn’t been selfless along the journey I have met cricketers (as was my first hope), including becoming close friends with that famous former Indian cricketer and polio survivor, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar. I have had the absolute privilege of learning and working with polio survivors, Rotarians, Government Ministers, UNICEF, WHO, Gates Foundation and many many others who I have tapped into their passion and dedication to become a part of the movement to see a polio-free world.Ramesh and world leaders

My polio (advocacy) journey has also taken me through a realm of different experiences and perspectives from Australia to the US, Canada, Pakistan, India, Aotearoa New Zealand, Brunei and currently Uganda where I am working on the Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program with UNICEF Uganda.with rural community in Uganda

In this time there is plenty of good from collaborations with Government and Rotary to receiving beautiful mounds of information on the polio program and how it functions at the macro and micro level.

The bad is also there as we have seen currently with a major polio outbreak in the Horn Of Africa this year affecting more than 180 children.

BenQ Digital CameraThe ugly certainly became apparent just after I left Pakistan when 9 vaccinators were killed in December last year and then an unbelievably generous man I met in the slums of Karachi, Waheed, who was providing not only polio immunisation for his community but also education, clean water, sanitation and a food program, and was murdered in the middle of this year.


But of all I have seen in polio eradication, in the very limited time I have been advocating on it, the most that stands out for me is the inspirational. I don’t have time or space to mention even a few of heroes here but I have continuously blogged about them and the collaborations, learning and actions that defy anything like it in history and blaze a path for more than just eradicating a disease.2011 The End of Polio team with Ramesh

While I know that polio eradication is just one of many important things in the world to address, and certainly not the one thing in the world I thought I would ever dedicate myself to for more than two years, it is a true show of what is possible and what needs to happen to overcome the injustice and inequality in the world and to not just eradicate a disease but build a platform for better community health and access and opportunity to everyone, everywhere and forever.

If you want to take action to see the end of polio consider the following:

  • Look at the Polio Points concept (that I hope to be working on next year) and start thinking if this is something your school/workplace/institution might be interested in for next year – http://www.poliopoints.org/
  • Use your voice and advocacy skills and support the wonderful work of The End of Polio campaign from the Global Poverty Project – http://www.theendofpolio.com
  • If you have spare change of $1.5b for polio eradication (or a portion of it) then put it into the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with UNICEF and Rotary
  • Be a skilled participant on the Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program run by CDC, WHO and UNICEF – http://www.cdc.gov/polio/stop/

PS. a huge heartfelt thank you to those who have enriched me in this journey – sorry it is general but it is a very big thank you…

About Living Geo d'Arcy

Experiences are the richest thing in life. Love them and live them.
This entry was posted in 2013 Life, The End of Polio, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Polio Eradication – the Good, the Bad, the Ugly and (mostly) the INSPIRING…

  1. Florence Tinkamanyire says:

    dArcy, you have really done a great job. Thank you very much.

    • lunny06 says:

      Thank you Florence but really I am just the participant and receiver of information and inspiration and just pass it along to others. Plus it is an absolute dream every day that I get to live, work and learn with people and cultures such as yours.

      Many thanks to you and your colleagues at Rotary Uganda and the PolioPlus Committee!

  2. d’Arcy – you continue to amaze me with your ongoing efforts and selflessness. You are an inspiration to so many!

  3. lunny06 says:

    Can only do it with the support and insights from the like of you… Plus I get to call it my passion and lifestyle – never a job!

  4. Tom says:

    Thanks for the summary Lunn. Great to see how things have evolved for you over the past years with your involvement in this project and hear about what you have learnt. Really enjoyed looking at the photos again – some absolute classics. Glad to see Im not the only guy that thinks a t-shirt fits for all occations – although I did notice the t-shirt and jacket combo.

    • lunny06 says:

      Thanks Thomas and have to say as an advocate or activist you can get away with the shirt and jacket as you live the cause… Despite meeting presidents and UN heads I still have got away with wearing a tie (actually not true SACA made me wear one…). It is however a privilege to be able to represent others and that is why leaders are leaders – they just represent others… It’s been a world of fun and know it won’t stop anytime soon!

  5. I’m really enjoying reading your blog. You really are inspirational!

  6. Pingback: THE END OF POLIO » Polio Eradication — the Good, the Bad, the Ugly and (most of all) the INSPIRATIONAL

  7. Jacqueline.Erina says:

    Hey Mr.Lunn, I just stumbled across your page! I don’t think you remember me, but I’m Jacqueline Mail and I was part of the Polio Points initiation at the International School Brunei. I’m now studying in Jerudong International School and we’ve also adopted the polio points reward programme! I hope you’re doing well and riding your bike as always 🙂 Thanks for coming to Brunei and I hope you can visit us again!!

    • lunny06 says:

      Hi Jacqueline,

      Thank you for your comment and I am sure you were a Polio Points ambassador at ISB eh? Great to hear you are still enjoying the Polio Points at JIS and I will be there this year in December and please come and say hi at some stage.

      I’m currently in Liberia and doing more walking than riding a bike as the roads are a bit dangerous but the polio program is going well with just 10 cases so far this year, the lowest ever…

      Wishing you well and see you in Brunei in a few months. d’Arcy.

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