|© UNICEF India|
|Anil Kumble - India’s cricket star - visits a polio vaccination outreach booth in his home city of Bangalore, and gives a child the polio vaccine popularly known as the "two drops of life".|
KARNATAKA, 9 May 2004—India’s fourth “Polio Sunday,” which aims to immunize all children under age five in three of India’s states, has received warm support from a star of India’s cricket team.
Anil Kumble, India’s famous spin bowler, visited a polio vaccination outreach booth in his home city of Bangalore. There he immunized many children, including a one-day-old child, with the polio vaccine popularly known as the "two drops of life".
Since UNICEF and its partners started the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, the number of polio cases in India has declined dramatically from 4,791 in 1995/96 to 225 in 2003, and only 8 cases to date in 2004.
"What a lifetime opportunity, not only to see Kumble in person but to also hold my daughter while she was being given polio drops by him. I will never forget this moment for the rest of my life!" exclaimed Ashok Kumar, father of a two-month-old baby girl.
The parents and their children were thrilled to see their cricket idol and national celebrity, but were touched mainly by his determination to protect each and every child from the polio virus.
Mr. Kumble surprised many officials with his knowledge of the programme, having visited a polio booth with his one-month-old son earlier in the day. He also expressed the resolve of the entire cricket team to do whatever it takes to successfully eradicate polio.
Mr. Kumble praised the hard work done by health workers and volunteers, saying, "I must congratulate and commend all of the workers and volunteers who have ensured the reduction of polio cases this past year. I also urge all citizens to accept responsibility in helping to wipe out polio completely."