Nigeria is Focal Point for Rotary's Fight Against Polio, Say Cusicks
Nigeria is the largest country in Africa with about 150 million people.
February 3, 2008
Last Weeks program - January 29
By: Dave Rogers
Nigeria is Focal Point for Rotary's Fight Against Polio
Chuck Cusick, former U.S. Air Force captain, and his wife, Nancy, a registered nurse, are leaders from the Bay City area in the Rotary International drive to wipe out polio worldwide.
Mr. Cusick, a graduate of Notre Dame University and a Rotarian, was team leader on a group study exchange trip to the West Indies in 1999. A former president of an Indianapolis, Indiana, area Rotary Club, he is co-chairman of the Polio Plus committee for District 6310. A former retail manager and entrepreneur, he is now a personal fitness trainer.
The Cusicks, introduced by programmer Ed Keating, told of their adventures and showed slides of their recent trip (November 2007) to the west African country of Nigeria.
At 357,000 square miles, Nigeria is twice the size of California. The capital is Abuja, visited by the Cusicks, and the largest city is Lagos. Nigeria won independence from Great Britain in 1960 and declared a republic in 1963.
Nigeria is the largest country in Africa with about 150 million people. It has significant ethnic and religious tensions, with Christians to the south and Muslims to the north. The country has about 250 ethnic groups. The economy is booming, according to the Cusicks.
A re-emergence of polio in 20 countries from 2003 to 2006 has been traced to Nigeria and attributed to movement of people, said Mr. Cusick.
Nigeria remains one of four countries still listed as endemic with polio, the others being India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
So Rotary International is focusing its efforts on Nigeria as the organization seeks funds to match a $100 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
"The goal can be met if every Rotarian donates an extra $100 over three years, in addition to regular donations to the RI Foundation," said Mr. Cusick.
The amount sought from individual Rotarians, about 65 cents a week, will provide one dose, the two drops of polio vaccine necessary to partially immunize a child, he said.
The Cusicks participated in National Polio Immunization Day in Nigeria, the largest such event in black Africa. Sixty percent of the active polio cases involve children under age three. There is no vaccine for about 38 percent of those children. With three doses the incidence of polio can be reduced to 10 percent, he said.
Barriers to full immunization include fear, lack of trust by parents, transportation, (the immunization team had to travel by motorcycle) unavailability of vaccine, government corruption and communication, he said.
Kathy Czerwinski presented two Paul Harris Fellow awards. Griff Acker received his PH Plus 2 and Harry Farris his PH Plus 8.
Some club history was recounted as Harry read from a 1970 copy of the Breezes which noted the induction of Ron Fuller as a member. George Shaw showed off his grandfather's Rotary Name badge, which he found in the attic. His Grandfather, George A. Long, was club president 1933 to 1934.
(See the official schedule at
Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative, presented by George Heron
The Bay Commitment - Jerome Yantz & Sue Murphy
Digital Television - Mike Tamme, Chief Engineer WNEM TV-5
Vocational Days are right around the corner. 88 students are scheduled for March 4, and 158 are scheduled for March 18.
The club will host a dinner honoring the Women of Rotary at the Doubletree on March 6. Plan to attend.