Newdelhi:30/1/21:Hon. President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind launched the Pulse Polio Programme for 2021 today by administering polio drops to children less than five years old at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, in the presence of Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, and Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare.
The Hon. President and First Lady Smt. Savita Kovind administered polio drops to children on the eve of the Polio National Immunization Day, which is observed on the 31st January 2021 (Sunday), also popularly known as Polio Ravivar. Around 17 crore children of less than 5 years of age will be given polio drops as part of the drive of the Government of India to sustain the polio-free status of the country. The countrywide drive will be supported by about 24 lakh volunteers, 1.5 lakh supervisors, and many Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), WHO, UNICEF, Rotary, etc. Healthcare workers will be visiting as many as 2 crore households to ensure that no child is left without the protection of the polio vaccine.
Speaking at the launch event, Dr. Harsh Vardhan expressed deep gratitude towards the President and the First Lady for their kind presence, particularly at the time of the COVID pandemic to highlight India’s commitment to protecting all the children of India from all vaccine-preventable diseases.
He reminisced his personal journey of leading the fight against Polio as the Health Minister, Delhi Government when India accounted for 60% of all Polio cases globally. “The strategy of Pulse Polio Immunization Programme was conceived in December 1993 and it was rolled out from 2nd October 1994 when the first child was immunized against Polio as part of this programme. Almost 12 lakh children were immunized in a single day at around 4000 centers. In 1995 seeing the visible impact of the Pulse Polio Programme in Delhi, this was replicated at the national level. A year later, several countries of the South East Asia region of WHO emulated the strategy and implemented similar programs. Even in Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela launched the ‘Kick Polio out of Africa’ campaign”, the Union Health Minister recollected.
Cherishing the success of the program, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “Before the start of the program, India had 60% caseload of Polio worldwide. With the last case of Polio reported in Howrah on 13th January 2011, the country has been free of Polio for a decade now.”
Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary, Dr. Manohar Agnani, Addl. Secy (Health), MoHFW, Dr. Roderico Orfin, Country Representative of WHO, Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, Country Representative, UNICEF and senior officers of Health Ministry were present at the event.