Aug 28, 2010

Figueroa contracted polio when she was 10 months old, in 1955

A life of advocacy for CDTA panel leader

Published: 12:00 a.m., Saturday, August 28, 2010
  • Denise Figueroa, the new chairwoman of the CDTA board, has helped raise CDTA's awareness of issues faced by bus patrons with special needs. She appears in Troy with a CDTA bus. ( Philip Kamrass / Times Union )

ALBANY -- For Denise Figueroa, leading the Capital District Transportation Authority board of directors is a way for her to continue assisting the disabled.
Figueroa is the founder of the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley, which she has led for more than 20 years.
Figueroa helps to teach people with all kinds of disabilities to live on their own.
Figueroa contracted polio when she 

was 10 months old, in 1955, the same year Jonas Salkintroduced the polio vaccine, and has been wheelchair-bound since she was 18.
Since 2002, she has brought an awareness of disabled people's needs to the CDTA board before becoming its leader earlier this year.
"It's been a great experience for me," she said. "I've learned a lot from the other board members."
Before moving to the Capital Region in 1985, Figueroa was party to a lawsuit against theMetropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City over the lack of public transportation for the disabled.
At the time, she was an advocate with the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association.
"EPVA had sued New York City over accessibility," she said. "I was one of the named parties."
At the time, she said, neither state nor federal law required buses to transport the disabled. At first, service was limited to buses built specifically to transport riders who needed assistance.
If a disabled rider needed to go somewhere, the person could not simply wait on a bus stop with all the other passengers.
"My experience with CDTA was very different than my experience with the MTA," she said. "They were always pretty open to talking. ... I think there is more understanding and awareness."
State law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act now require all buses to be accessible, she said.
"People can predict when it's coming, and you don't have to wonder whether you can get it," she said.
Figueroa notes she is not only an advocate for the disabled on the board. She is appointed to serve all Albany County residents.
Carm Basile, CDTA's director, said Figueroa brings multiple talents to the board. As the leader of a not for profit, she understands what it takes to run an organization. At the same time, she is in touch with the needs of riders.
"She's a fantastic individual who brings real-world experience to the board," he said. "She brings a pretty interesting and broad perspective to the board. She's a very calm and thoughtful person. She has in her short time as chair been a real guiding influence."
Her husband, Patricio Figueroa, also uses a wheelchair. He is retired from the state Commission for Quality Care. The couple have a daughter, Melissa, a college senior.
Together, the couple produce a newspaper, Independence Today, which comes out six times a year and is distributed nationally. In addition to the website of her organization,, Denise Figueroa also runs a national website for people with disabilities to help them with independent living,
First appointed to the CDTA board by Gov. George Pataki, Figueroa said there was an interest in making certain that CDTA was listening to the concerns of disabled riders. She was already serving on an advisory board, appointed by then-Gov. Mario Cuomo, before she accepted the appointment to be a director.
Figueroa has spent her life helping people to be as independent as she is.
"Obviously we all adapt," she said. "We figure out how to do things. There are solutions. You just have to figure out how to do it."
And she's glad to help.

México a la vanguardia en el Síndrome de Post Polio

Aug 22, 2010

Triste Noticia 4 Bebés Mueren Por Vacuna De Polio , Paperas, Así Retrocedemos En la Erradicación

4 babies die after shots of vaccine
Lucknow, Aug. 21: Four babies died today in Uttar Pradesh soon after they were administered vaccines for polio, measles and night blindness.

The babies were aged between three and eight months, and belonged to three villages in Mohanlalganj block, 25km from Lucknow. A fifth baby is fighting for life in hospital.

“It is difficult to ascertain which vaccination had caused the deaths. Only an examination of the samples and post-mortem of the children would reveal the truth. But this is an extremely tragic and unfortunate incident,” Dr A.K. Shukla, the chief medical officer, Lucknow, said.

A probe has been ordered and samples from the vaccine vials that might have poisoned the children have been collected for tests, he said. The head of the immunisation programme in Mohanlalganj, Dr K.P. Upadhya, and four women health workers have been suspended pending investigation.

“Around 11am, immediately after the vaccination, my daughter Rekha Kumari began frothing at the mouth,” said Kiranbala Devi, a 24-year-old mother from Rampur Khera village. Rekha was seven months old.
Eight-month-old Tania and two boys aged between three and six months are the other dead.
“A total of five children had fallen ill. All five were first admitted to a primary health centre in Mohanlalganj and then they were shifted to King George Medical College in Lucknow. Four died on the way and one who is admitted to Lucknow hospital is battling for life,” said Dr S.C. Ram, director general, family welfare.

Around 25 infants from four villages had assembled at the health camp in Rampur Khera, but the immunisation drive was stopped after the babies fell ill. Sources, however, said one or two other babies might have been vaccinated.

Furious villagers in Rampur Khera, Padmini Khera and Bindawa — villages dominated by Dalits and backward classes attacked the primary health workers administering the vaccines and held three government doctors hostage. Police were sent to rescue them.

“As news of the deaths of the children filtered down to the villages around 2pm, a team of three doctors who had gone there to investigate the cause of the deaths were held hostage by the villagers in the office of the local health centre,” Lucknow district magistrate Anil Sagar said.
Some villagers threatened to burn them alive, the police said. By 4pm, at least 600 angry villagers had gathered. 
They let the doctors go after much persuasion.
“We have now stopped the immunisation programme in the entire Mohanlalganj block. We have been able to pacify the villagers. A committee has been set up to find out the cause of the deaths,” Dr Ram said.
The deaths will make it further difficult to convince villagers to get their children immunised in a region where vaccines, especially that for polio, are seen with suspicion. Villagers often chase away health workers giving the polio vaccine because they believe it causes impotence.
Of the three vaccines given today, two — for measles and night blindness — were injectible and the one for polio was oral
FIR lodged against unnamed people in vaccination deaths

Lucknow, Aug 22 – No one has been named in a first information report (FIR) lodged in the deaths of four infants during a routine immunisation drive in Lucknow, police said Sunday.
Lucknow deputy inspector general of police Rajiv Krishna said: ‘The family welfare department has chosen to file an unnamed FIR. Let us see what emerges out in the police investigation.’
Strangely, this comes close on the heels of the suspension of at least half a dozen officials belonging to the health and family welfare departments. These include, a medical officer and a paramedic detailed to carry out routine vaccination against measles, TB and vitamin A deficiency in the Mohanlalganj area on the outskirts of this state capital.
While the entire drive was suspended Saturday within hours of the death of four infants in three different villages located in close proximity, people in distant villages have become apprehensive of what was being referred to as ‘zehreela teeka’ (poisonous vaccine).
Loud wails of family members and neighbours could be heard through the night and even the whole of Sunday morning, when the bodies of the four victims were taken for their last rites.
While the autopsy on the bodies was carried out Saturday, the report is yet to be released.
‘They gave her some poisonous vaccine, otherwise how could my daughter just collapse within minutes of receiving the dose? I had only two daughters and now I am left with one,’ a wailing Kanta, the young mother of 9-month-old Rekha, told IANS.
‘My child got unconscious shortly after she was vaccinated but there was no doctor present at the immunisation camp. A phone call was made to the doctor, who took more than an hour to arrive and to declare her dead,’ she moaned.
Her neighbour Shiv Kanti, the hapless mother of 10-month-old Sahil, who also met his end in Saturday’s tragedy, was weeping inconsolably .
‘Sahil was my only son among three children. Now where will I get a son from?’
Sahil’s grandfather, Maiku Lal, who is known for motivating illiterate villagers to go for immunsation of their little ones, has now turned firmly against any kind of vaccination.
‘This is all bunk. How can you gamble with the lives of your children? I will never ask anyone to take his child for immunsation now,’ he remarked.
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