|© UNICEF India/2011|
|UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan speaks at the launch of a new campaign to eradicate polio, in Mumbai, India.|
MUMBAI, India, 19 December 2011 – Launching a new polio eradication campaign, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan appealed to parents and caregivers throughout the country to take advantage of the opportunity to “make polio history in India.”
The new campaign encourages parents to protect their children against the crippling and potentially deadly polio virus.
Over the past year, the country has made great strides toward eradicating the disease. India reported only one case of polio in 2011, compared with 42 cases in 2010 and 741 cases in 2009.
Mr. Bachchan, a celebrated actor, has made polio eradication the focus of his work with UNICEF. During his remarks on the 15 December campaign launch, he praised India’s unprecedented progress and urged parents and policy makers to intensify their efforts.
“I feel proud of the remarkable progress achieved this year,” he said. “But at the same time, I would like to caution that the job is not finished yet. Polio remains a threat everywhere as long as the poliovirus continues to circulate anywhere in the world. We must continue to immunize all children up to five years until polio is eradicated in India and globally.”
The new campaign is part of these redoubled efforts. It emphasizes three key points: polio has no cure and can only be prevented by taking the oral polio vaccine; the vaccine should be taken multiple times by children up to five years of age; and the highest-risk populations, migrants and mobile communities, should take the vaccine wherever they go. The campaign’s logo depicts a couple and a child taking two drops of oral polio vaccine.
On the verge of eradication
Mr. Bachchan congratulated vaccinators, health workers, community mobilizers, parents and caregivers for overcoming a variety of challenges and obstacles in the hardest-to-reach areas. Their tireless efforts, and the continuing support of the community, have helped India reach the verge of polio eradication in 2011.
“India is historically close to eradicating polio,” Mr. Bachchan said. “We are on the edge of achieving our dream of ensuring no child in India is ever needlessly paralyzed by polio again. The world is watching and taking lessons from our effort. Let us together continue to work to make polio history in India.”
Also attending the campaign launch were Maharashtra State Immunisation Officer V.N. Kulkarni, UNICEF Deputy Representative in India David Mcloughlin, Chairman of Rotary Ulema Committee in Uttar Pradesh Ashok Mahajan, and World Health Organization National Polio Surveillance Project Regional Team Leader Ravindra Banpel.