Friday, December 24, 2010

Make fight against polio mandatory for every citizen, suggests Punjab's Minister for Health and Family Welfare

District 3080 hosted anInter-Agency Coordinating Meeting for Polio Eradication at Chandigarh. Organised by Rotary International’s India National PolioPlus Society, representatives from WHO India, health workers from the states of Punjab, and Haryana, senior Rotarians from Rotary International Districts 3070, 3080 and 3090, participated in this meeting to chalk out the way-forward to completely eradicate polio from the country.

Prof. Lakshmi Kanta Chawla, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Government of Punjab, who was the chief guest at this meet, said that each and every citizen of our country should join in the fight against polio and immunize every child in every home of our country to ensure hundred percent success, for which a clear mandate should go to the people.

The year 2011 should be dedicated by every health worker, doctor, Rotarian and people to reach out to every household and ensure complete immunization, she emphasized.

In polio eradication we are already there, she said, but not the next big effort for Rotarians would be to focus on sensitizing the minds of the people in the north to prevent killing of girl child in the womb.Looking at the extensive female foeticide she said that Rotary must take it up as its next major programme.  
 Dr. Sunil Bahl, Senior Technical Advisor to WHO-India listed out the progress that the campaign against polio has achieved and complimented every stakeholder engaged in the process. He informed that this year only 41 cases have been reported as of date as against 685 last year, with marked reduction in the P1 virus cases. 
Despite the accomplishments major risk is certain metros like Delhi as well as in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Mahrashtra, Punjab and Haryana are in the high risk areas because of the migration of people from UP and Bihar areas, Dr Bahl warned.
Mr Rajendra K. Saboo, former world President of Rotary International, who had been actively involved in the initiation of Rotary’s global initiative said that never before in the history of mankind such a massive world-wide efforts have been made to eradicate a preventable disease, as he traced the series of initiatives that began in 1979 followed by advocacy efforts with WHO and later with the governments of various countries to adopt it as a national programme.
The advocacy efforts, he said, have successfully paid dividend in the south Asian countries where Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have been able to achieve complete eradication despite the internal strife these nations had been passing through.
This is not the time to be complacent by any of the partners engaged in this fight, since already the havoc is being caused in countries like Angola, Nepal, Congo and Russia, where polio virus has travelled from our country, and the same holds true for our own country where many of the states have had no incidence, Mr Saboo remarked.
Polio is the greatest enemy and even one case is too much for us in our country, he averred.
Rtn. Shubh Karn Gupta, national committee member of the Rotary International’s India National PolioPlus Committee informed about Rotary’s endeavours in generating awareness amongst all sections of the society, including minority communities.
Dr. Balwinder Singh, Senior Immunisation Officer, Government of Punjab, informed that the state has achieved number one position in surveillance and immunization in the country from amonst the large states, and the focus is now to reach out to urban households for which Urban Nodal Officers have been appointed to reach out to urban households who had been ignoring the NIDs.
Dr. Suresh Kumar of Haryana said that the special efforts were being made in Mewat, Palwal, Gurgaon, Ambala, Karnal, and Yamunanagar areas to achieve complete immunization.
Others who addressed the meeting included Rotary District 3080 Governor Madhukar Malhotra, District 3070 Governor Manmohan Jerath, and District Governor 3090 Dr. K.C. Kajal.

Rotary International & Polio
Rotary International has been spearheading the movement for Global Polio Eradication initiative, along with WHO, UNICEF and CDC (Centre for Disease Control, USA), since 1985, and it was sustained advocacy efforts of Rotary’s India National PolioPlus Committee that the Government of India adopted the National Immunisation Days in 1995. 
Till date, Rotary has contributed nearly US$900 million (Rs.4500 crores) worldwide.  In India alone Rotary’s contributions stand at US$ 141.2 million (Rs.706 crores).
In India alone, since its launch, the disease incidence has reduced by 99%, with just remaining few endemic regions in the northern states where Polio is persisting. More than 40 lakh children have been saved from falling prey to Polio in India since the campaign was launched in India in 1995.

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