India has a reason to smile on the polio front, as it was taken
off the list of polio endemic countries by the World Health
Organisation (WHO), Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad announced at
the Polio Summit 2012 here Saturday. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
was also present.
"WHO has taken India's name off the list of polio endemic
countries in view of the remarkable progress that we have made
during the past one year," Azad said.
The prime minister lauded the health volunteers, saying the real
credit goes to them.
"I venture to say that the real credit goes to the 23 lakh
volunteers who repeatedly vaccinated children even in the most
remote areas, often in very bad weather conditions. I commend each
one of them for their dedication, for their commitment and for
their selfless service," the prime minister said inaugurating the
The heath minister also disclosed that from 2 lakh polio cases a
year, the country has recorded not a single polio case in the past
"We have won the battle but the war is not yet over. Let us
continue our efforts with the same vigour, so that India can be
declared polio free in the year 2014," Azad said.
The health minister also said that the ministry has put in place
an emergency preparedness and response plan which would be
implemented in all states in the country.
"Under the emergency preparedness and response plan, there will be
zero tolerance for any new polio case and such a case will be
declared as a public health emergency. Rapid response teams have
already been formed in all states to rapidly respond to any polio
case in the country," Azad added.
The prime minister stressed that it was necessary to ensure that
every child across India is immunised.
"We must ensure that every Indian child, rich or poor, whether
living in Ladakh or in Delhi has equal access to the best
immunization. To this ambitious task I commit our government,"
Manmohan Singh said.
According to figures compiled by health ministry, 27 percent of
the global expenditure on polio eradication has come from India's
While India has been taken off the list of polio endemic list by
the WHO, three countries -- Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan --
still figure on the list.
The summit was jointly organised by health ministry and Rotary
International, and has been attended by all stakeholders and
partners including UNICEF and WHO along with others.
Representatives from various other countries including Pakistan,
Afghanistan, Nigeria, Nepal and Sri Lanka were also present at the
The two-day summit will conclude Sunday.