MUMBAI, India, 15 December 2011 - Lauding India’s unprecedented progress against polio, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Polio Eradication, Mr Amitabh Bachchan, today launched the new Communication Campaign for polio, appealing to parents and caregivers to take advantage of this rare opportunity to “make polio history in India”.
“As Goodwill Ambassador for Polio, I feel proud of the remarkable progress achieved this year. 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 5 years until polio is eradicated in India and globally,” he said.
Mr Bachchan, who has been persuading and motivating parents to take their children to the polio booths in his nearly decade-long association with the programme as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, continues to be the face of the new polio campaign.
The new campaign puts the onus on the parents to seek protection against polio for their children with the tag line “mere bachche ko do boond har bar” and the new logo, depicting a couple and a child taking two drops of oral polio vaccine (OPV).
The campaign now addresses three key issues - polio has no cure and can only be prevented by taking OPV each time it is offered; OPV should be taken multiple times up to five years of age, and that the highest-risk population - migrants and mobile people - should take OPV wherever they go.
Mr Bachchan congratulated the vaccinators, health workers, community mobilizers, parents and caregivers for overcoming multiple challenges and obstacles in the most difficult situations and hard-to-reach areas to protect children against polio. The tireless efforts of the frontline workers and the continuing support of the community have helped India be on 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.”
Maharashtra State Immunisation Officer Dr V N Kulkarni, UNICEF Country Office Deputy Representative Mr David Mcloughlin, senior Rotarian Mr Ashok Mahajan and Regional Team Leader World Health Organization – National Polio Surveillance Project Dr Ravindra Banpel, were among those present at the launch.
India has reported one case of polio in 2011, compared with 41 in the corresponding period of 2010. Last year, India reported 42 cases and in 2009 there were 741. The case in 2011 was reported from Howrah on West Bengal on 13 January. There has been no case of polio since then. This is the first time in history that India has not reported any case of polio for 11 consecutive months. For the first time, the two traditional polio reservoir states of polio – Uttar Pradesh and Bihar – have not reported any case of polio for over a year.
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For media queries and more information contact:
Shamila Sharma, Communication Specialist, Polio,
Tel + 919818595937