Rotarian Terry Thomas introduced Stella Roy and described her as one of Rotary's real frontline workers.  Stella is currently working as an End Polio Now Zone Coordinator for 28 East and is now the D7820 Polio Chair.  She served as District Governor for the D7820 in 2014/2015 that included Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, St. Pierre et Miquelon.  Stella has been on polio NID trips to India, Madagascar and Nigeria.  She is a Paul Harris Society Member and a Bequest Society Member.  Stella was proud to receive the Polio Regional Service Award for a polio free world in June 2017 and a Citation for Meritorious Service from the Rotary Foundation.  Her real job is as a physiotherapist in the area of women's health in Bedford, Nova Scotia and her hobbies include sailing, hiking and paddle boarding with her dog Sailor.  Terry first met Stella 7 years ago and found her to be a wealth of data and up-to-date information on what was happening in the fight against polio.
 
As previously mentioned, Stella travelled to Nigeria in 2013, 2015 and 2017 with a polio team led by Ann Lee Hussey.  In 2014 Africa was declared polio free.  In an address, Bill Gates was quoted as saying "there was nothing inevitable about Africa becoming polio free".  Rotary played a huge role along with collaboration from politicians, world leaders, donors, regional leaders, religious leaders, public health and health care workers.  So what is polio?  It is a virus that can cause acute paralysis.  It is spread through contaminated water and poor sanitation and enters the digestive system where it adapts and attacks nerve endings.
 
Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only countries with polio cases.  November 23, 2020 is the most recent case in Pakistan and so far in 2021, there has only been one case in Afghanistan compared to 56 cases in all of 2020.  The Pakistan withdrew its support in May of 2019, but with Rotary Advocacy collaborating with WHO UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, came back on board in 2020.  Stella recounted her trips to Africa, working alongside the health care workers in a number of immunization clinics, building confidence and trust among the local people to encourage them to have their children vaccinated.  There were many challenges, not the least of which was keeping the vaccine cold.  Stella was quick to recognize the healthcare workers as the unsung heroes of this huge undertaking, some who lost their lives in Nigeria in 2013, but everyone remained steadfast and committed.  From an administrative point of view, there were weekly meetings at designated Emergency Operation Centers where they had to report how many children were vaccinated.  Those numbers were tallied up from all the EOC centers and reported to the CBC.  Only then did they actually know how many children were vaccinated.  The numbers are staggering.  There are 1.35 billion people in India and 196 million in Algeria, but the job had to get done as monumental as it was.  The governments introduced incentives and held back commodities such as fuel if children were not vaccinated.  Mosquito nets were given out to mothers as a reward for having their children vaccinated (in Nigeria at the displacement camps). 
 
The mood is one of optimism for Rotary International's polio program as of January 2021.  Vaccines work.  The fight to end polio is proof.  The healthcare workers and polio networks are known in their community and tracing call centres are being repurposed for COVID-19 tracing and testing.  Rotary's polio program can help with COVID-19.  Even with the challenges of a worldwide pandemic, fundraising efforts in 2019/2020 resulted in $50,795,000 compared with $50,800,000 the year before.  When the world stepped down, Rotary stepped up!  In 1996 an estimated 75,000 African children were paralyzed by polio.  As of 2020, the African Region is certified wild poliovirus-free.  Nineteen million people are walking on earth who would otherwise have been paralyzed.  An estimated 650,000 cases are now prevented each year.  Since 1988, 3 billion children have received oral polio vaccine.  In 2019, more than 430 million children in 40 plus countries were vaccinated using 1.2 billion doses of oral polio vaccine.  Astounding impacts from people of action.  April 20 - 24, 2021 is World Immunization Week.  Only 9% of Rotarians give to Polio Plus.  Stella encouraged all Rotarians to give $10.  Imagine what that would do for the world.  And as Bill Gates says "as long as we never give up, then polio does not stand a chance".  Stella also shared information on END POLIO NOW TULIPS project.  The tulips sell for $25.00 per box with expected profit of $14.00 per box going to POLIO. For more information, Stella can be contacted at roystellaj@gmail.com.
Dr. Ruth Mathieson thanked Stella for her amazing talk.   Dr. Ruth knows firsthand how suspicious Nigerians can be so it is good to know they trusted Stella and others on the team.  Even the Taliban were thankful.