Sonia Gandhi: We are polio-free now, let us work together to eradicate other diseases too
Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi addressed a function to commemorate the landmark achievement of Polio Free India at a special function at New Delhi’s Talkatora Indoor Stadium on Tuesday. President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad and World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Margaret Chan were also among those present on the occasion. The celebration has been organized by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to commemorate this accomplishment as well as to thank all those who contributed to it.
Expressing her happiness for achieving this mile stone, Sonia Gandhi said, “There is nothing that makes me more happy here today as we celebrate the three years of freedom from polio in our country. The India Polio Eradication Programme is something we can all be proud of. 20 years ago more than 50000 people, mostly from poor families, were affected by it. That means more than 50000 women and families face the financial and social burden of bringing up polio-stricken children. Today no woman, no families, has to bear this painful burden” and added, “The programme was an extra ordinary success. In scope and reach, it has been unmatched by any health based programme in the world. It has reached every child across the length and breadth of our land and finally rid our country of this ancient and creeping curse”.
“Today we acknowledge that this historic milestone has been achieved with single mindedness of purpose and extra ordinary team work and a strong political will. This massive immunization programme required a high degree of coordination. I congratulate Sh. Ghulam Nabi Azad and his team of officers from the ministry of health and family welfare, field officials, health workers, ASHAs and volunteers who made this achievement possible” further said the Congress President
“Let us go from here today, while we celebrate; let us go from here today committed to bring the same determination to bear in the eradication of other diseases which are still a burden on our people, especially on our children” said Sonia Gandhi. “I once again congratulate all those who have participated in this exemplary and successful programme; I salute them all; I salute you all”, said the Congress President while concluding her address.
India has completed three years without polio, a landmark achievement which would pave the way for a polio-free certification from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Health ministry said 40,000 reporting units, including health facilities, annually report 60,000 cases of paralysis to the polio surveillance network - National Polio Surveillance Project.
India reported more than half of the global polio cases until 2009. The country introduced the oral polio vaccine in 1985 in the universal immunisation programme in the backdrop of over 200,000 cases of polio annually. India has not reported any new case of polio since a two-year-old girl got polio paralysis Jan 13, 2011 in Howrah district of West Bengal. India's victory over polio paves the way for a polio-free certification of the South East Asia region of WHO in March end.
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