Polio eradication: India offers to help Pakistan

The health minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan has offered cooperation to end polio in the neighboring country which accounts for 85 percent of the world’s polio cases


Dr Harsh Vardhan administering the polio vaccine drops to children under-five years to mark the World Polio Day, in New Delhi

"I have been through the plan and find that the script is perfect. Pakistan has resolved to set up monitoring cells at the grassroots level. They are also talking of involving social groups, a strategy which worked wonderfully in India," said Dr Harsh Vardhan recently on the occasion of the World Polio Day, while welcoming Pakistan's prime minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif's recent declaration of adoption of a "National Emergency Action Plan-2014". The program will be fully state funded till 2018.

India's social mobilization network for the fight against polio, which was originally conceived in Delhi in 1994 when Dr Harsh Vardhan was Health Minister of the state, has been lauded by all international organizations including World Health Organisation, UNICEF, Rotary International, and the United States Center for Disease Control.

Dr Harsh Vardhan noted, "This particular model would stand Pakistan in good stead in her own anti-Polio drive. Unless all stakeholders in society, most importantly in Pakistan's context her religious clergy, are involved, it would be impossible to achieve total polio eradication."

Recalling the joint statement issued at the end of the foreign minister-level talks in September 2012, Dr Vardhan pointed out that the two countries had already talked of institutionalizing cooperation on polio eradication through the mechanism of a Joint Working Group. There is also a technical level working group in the area of health cooperation.

However, there was no significant progress on this front. India achieved full freedom from polio in January 2014 due to the fact that not a single new case had been detected since January 2011. Dr Vardhan said, "This year's World Polio Day is an emotional experience for me because it is the first to be observed since we became a polio free nation. When I launched the first Pulse Polio drive in Delhi in 1994 this seemed an impossible dream."


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