Having Nothing and Sharing vs Not Having and Sharing
... to clearly understand our 'customer' WHO-NPSP and to prepare for the trainings Guus and I spend a day with NPSP during 'a round'. It was a special day. I call it ‘a triple I day': Impressive - Intense - Inspiring.
The team leader of the region - who has a responsibility for an area at least as large as the Netherlands - and a doctor guide us this day.
The objective of NPSP is that no child in India suffers from the consequences of polio. Children become paralyzed by polio and/or deformed. It is an infectious disease caused by the polio virus. If the virus enters the nervous system, it is likely to become paralyzed within a few hours. Polio can strike at any age but affects mainly children under three. Polio is caused by poor hygiene and sanitary conditions. Children playing and running in open sewers wearing no underwear are vulnerable. It infects people who have no immunity against the disease. We are vaccinated against polio at a young age through the DKTP shot. Polio can only be prevented by immunization with the polio vaccine.
Polio is/was huge in India. As soon as a child demonstrates symptoms of paralysis a medical team of NPSP is going to the house/area to check if it concerns a polio case. Because the disease rapidly and easily spreads among children, acute intervention is highly important. The term 'case' is used from the moment that polio is confirmed. It means that after several lab tests of stool in Delhi/Mumbai are established and that there is polio.
With many knowledge and experience in the medical field and in project management the project is very well organized and shows amazing results. Of 1934 cases in 1998 to 42 cases in 2010. This year has 'only' one case occurred in India. Through the efforts of WHO NPSP, the number of polio cases decreased enormously. The eradication of polio in India seems within sight.
To eradicate polio NPSP drives around in India with 350 vehicles. They eradicate by organising ‘a round’ once a month. ‘A round’ means that field volunteers visit the communities and vaccinate young children. These field volunteers are monitored by doctors. After a presentation that gave us background information about the project, we went with the doctor and team leader to monitor the round: house to house - in slums - at the station - in transit sites e.g. a nomadic brick factory (brick kiln).
During the visit to the brick kiln, we discovered a great thing: how few people even have, they continue to share. People there invited us for some food and chai (Indian tea). It is very special to experience that. As we walked there and went back, Guus and I compared what we experienced there with the nomads-working-in-brick-kilns and at home. As such comparison is possible at all, we defined the following: Having Nothing and Sharing vs Not Having and Sharing.
Late afternoon we had half an hour free time and then we went to the supervisors meeting. The supervisors manage an average of three teams of 3 field volunteers per team. At the end of the long days they go to WHO NPSP office and report about the daily results. They discuss how many children are vaccinated, who are not and why not, what went right or wrong, what to do to improve (read: best quality - quantity ratio of vaccination). At the end of this meeting I was allowed - with translation in Hindi by the words of the doctor – to speak to the group. It was an inspiring day in which we could experience what a huge operation WHO-NPSP has begun with the goal to eradicate polio. In particular, the passion and dedication of all staff: doing such an important job for Moradabad (city) > Western Uttar Pradesh (state)> India (country). I felt myself proud to be working with this project. Then it became clear that we all shared that pride!
After the supervisors meeting we participated in a meeting to report figures to the government. The government is the principal. A formal meeting in which the hierarchical relationships were seen and felt. It seemed suddenly that not the ultimate goal was most important but it was all about numbers. This made me think of my time as an account manager. However, for both environments count that the discussion of these numbers is necessary for the greater goal.
Somewhat silent of a long and intensive day we sat with a satisfied feeling in our hotel in Moradabad to eat an Indian curry... which now had become less impressive than the experience of this day.
More information about the polio project http://www.npspindia.org/index.asp.