The CEO of one of India's pioneering biotech companies says that India reaching three years without any case of polio is "a massive achievement which will inspire us and should galvanise all stakeholders in public health community." Dr Harish Iyer, the CEO of Shantha Biotechnics congratulated the Government of India and the "hundreds of thousands of dedicated leaders and field workers who have made this possible."
Iyer's statement followed a letter earlier today from Sanofi Pasteur CEO Olivier Charmeil to Rotary International. "This is a once in a generation opportunity maybe once in a lifetime," Charmeil wrote to fellow global business leaders. "It is now up to all of us to collectively build on India's vast achievement. None of us would dare tell our grandchildren that we allowed polio to escape after it had been cornered and almost eliminated," wrote Charmeil.
He further congratulated both India and the members of the community service organization on their role in supporting the Indian government's "monumental achievement in making India polio free." The World Health Organization has described Rotary's role as inspirational. Charmeil said that business leaders had joined international organizations such as UNICEF and WHO in backing India's commitment to become polio free. "I think your example shows us what multidisciplinary, public-private partnerships can achieve," he wrote. "I am proud that we have been a long term partner of Rotary International."
Shantha was the first partner of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in protecting Indians against hepatitis B. Today, Shantha also produces vaccines to protect children from many other dangerous infections and is benefitting from Sanofi Pasteur experience on polio. Globally, Sanofi Pasteur provides more injectable and oral polio vaccines than any other company in the world, and has developed the technologies and production capacities which make inactivated polio vaccines affordable. These IPV (Inactivated Polio Vaccine) vaccines are an essential part of the future path to a polio-free world. "Our goal is to deliver massive quantities of high-quality, safe and efficacious vaccines in line with aggressive timelines of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative's Endgame strategy," wrote Charmeil. Shantha is now preparing the vaccines of the future to support polio eradication in India, with an IPV injection to be introduced "in the mid term" and a vaccine which combines IPV with protection against five other childhood killers which is to be introduced in the longer term, according to Dr. Harish Iyer.
President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee celebrated today three years without a case of polio in India, in the presence of World Health Organization Director General, Margaret Chan, at an event in New Delhi attended by the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh and by other dignitaries. The last case of polio in India was reported in the state of West Bengal on the 13th of January, 2011.