New Delhi: President of India Ram Nath Kovind launched the Pulse Polio Programme for 2021 on Saturday by administering polio drops to children less than five years old at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Around 17 crore children of less than 5 years of age will be given polio drops as part of the drive of Government of India to sustain 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.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, while speaking at the event, 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. Dr Vardhan recollected   

“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 centres. 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 South East Asia region of WHO emulated the strategy and implemented similar programs. Even in Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela launched ‘Kick Polio out of Africa’ campaign”

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.”

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.