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Cycling For the Cause of Polio Eradication

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Prof S.S. Shameem cycled 2,140 kms across Malaysia to spread awareness on the Polio Virus and global eradication of the disease.

The World Health Organization reports Polio cases have decreased by 99 percent across the world since 1988. Yet, even if one child contracts the disease today, the fear of it spreading to 200,000 cases a year lingers. While awareness campaigns, and health camps, have achieved much in terms of spreading awareness, one man embarked on a solo journey on his bicycle, riding the length and breadth of Malaysia, to spread the word.
S.S. Shameem, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Applications in Manipal Institute of Technology, Karnataka, who is posted at Manipal International University, Malaysia, cycled 2,140 km over two weeks from January 31 to February 14 to spread word on eradication of polio.
“Malaysia was declared a Polio-Free country a decade ago; but as it’s known, polio can spread anywhere, anytime unless properly taken care of. “I am currently located in Malaysia, so it was decided that the expedition would be held here. Earlier, I had done similar events back in India for causes like Green and Healthy India, among others,” says Shameem.

The Campaign 
The cycling campaign helped raise Rs 3 lakh (over 18,000 Malaysian Ringgit) for the global EndPolio mission of Rotary International. Operation Polio Eradication by Manipal is a movement by Manipal Academy of Higher Learning and Manipal Global. Shameem’s cycling expedition also promoted the institution’s Green-Health Awareness Campaign.
“Globally, most governments and NGOs are working on eradicating polio from the face of the earth. But we’re still yet to achieve 100 percent on this. As long as there’s one case, it can spread. Rotary International has been working tirelessly for many years with its EndPolio mission. This cycling expedition was in association with Rotary’s initiative. Manipal, having a strong presence in the medical sector in Malaysia as well, promoted this expedition for the same cause,” Shameem said.
For the Love of Cycling 
While there are many methods to spread awareness on health issues, Shameem believes that to reach out to as many people as possible, one needs to travel. To support the cause of polio eradication, he cycled 100-200 km a day. The expedition covered the whole of Malaysian mainland.

From the Cyclist’s Journal
“The only concerns were wildlife and reptiles. A particular 250 km stretch in northern Malaysia is full of mountains and thick forest, with no trace of human life for miles. Wild-pigs, elephants, even tigers are seen roaming freely on highways. I was lucky to have not encountered any at all. I was carrying two small knives at hands’ reach while cycling on the stretch,” says Shameem.
(Extracted from