NEW DELHI: “Let us renew our pledge to reach every single child to save them from Vaccine-Preventable Disease (VPDs)” said the Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan, the pioneer of Pulse polio programme in the country, here today.
Addressing the media on the celebration of the Silver Jubilee of the Pulse Polio Programme, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that an event is scheduled to be held on 31st October, 2019 at Dr Ambedkar International Center, Janpath with an expected gathering of around 800-900 delegates.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that India being declared Polio free in 2014 was a long and momentous journey, “It all began with a single thought that if ballot papers can reach each person, two life-saving drops of vaccination too can reach every child”.
The success of administering polio vaccination drops to 12 lakh children through 4000 ‘polio kendras’ on October 2, 1994, in the city of Delhi, led to a countrywide movement and Pulse Polio Program was taken countrywide a year later in 1995.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan thanked all stakeholders who contributed to this campaign, “India achieved this monumental triumph with the strong Government leadership, hard work and dedication of frontline health workforce, community and religious influencers, health officials, state governments, civil society organizations, professional bodies like IMA, IAP etc., partners such as WHO, Rotary and UNICEF and most importantly the support of our countrymen”.
The Minister further added that the best practices and the systems established by the Pulse Polio programme have benefitted other health programs, viz. the community mobilization, logistics management, reaching the last mile or setting up a surveillance system.
The learnings from Pulse Polio programme have helped implementation of other immunization programmes i.e. the Mission Indradhanush (MI) and the Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI), “our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi recognized the MI as a flagship programme and included it in the multi-ministerial programme like the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (GSA) as well as the Extended Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (EGSA) and we were able to reach and immunize crores of children across the country”.
Dr Harsh Vardhan also mentioned that since the NDA Government has taken charge in 2014, the Universal Immunization (UIP) basket of vaccines has expanded to cover 12 Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPDs) from the earlier 7.
As of today, “Mission Indradhanush and related drives have successfully reached out to and vaccinated 3.39 crore children and 87.2 Lakh pregnant women in India. The hallmark of these drives has been strong political commitment, strong convergence with 12 other ministries like MWCD, MoHRD, Youth & Sports Ministry etc.”.
The Minister also discussed the agenda of the 31st October 2019 Silver Jubilee event stating that it will a day to celebrate with the stalwarts of the Polio Campaign and mark India’s remarkable successes in child healthcare and immunization.
He highlighted that it will be a day to renew the pledge and energize all stakeholders to continue to work together to ensure 100% coverage with all lifesaving and absolutely free of cost vaccines available under Universal Immunization Programme (UIP).
The program on October 31, 2019, will last for 3 hours and will have a film on the journey of Pulse Polio.
It will also have a panel discussion featuring the prominent personnel of that era. During the event, 16 districts who achieved 90% full immunization coverage during IMI in 2017-18 will also be rewarded.
In 1988, the World Health Assembly (WHA) passed a resolution to launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).
The Government of Delhi, under the leadership of Dr Harsh Vardhan, piloted the first-ever large scale supplementary immunization campaign with OPV in 1994 giving birth to the “Pulse Polio” immunization campaign with the iconic ‘Do Boond Zindagi Ki’ tagline, on 2nd October 1994, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday.
The campaign in Delhi reached nearly one million children up to the age of three years with two doses of OPV being administered on 02 October and 04 December through exclusive booth-based strategy. This strategy was later adopted and implemented by the Government of India as Pulse Polio Campaigns.
India’s attainment of polio-free status in 2014 was coined by the World Health Organization as “one of the most significant achievements in public health,” and marked not just India but the entire South-East Asia Region being declared polio-free.