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India is now Polio Free!

posted 3 Feb 2014, 09:59 by Johan Rondelez
Picture of illuminated Gate stating India is Polio Free

Throughout India and around the world, Rotary clubs are
celebrating a major milestone: India has gone three years
without a new case of polio. The last reported case was a twoyear-
old girl in West Bengal on 13 January 2011.

To mark this historic triumph -- reached after a decades-long
battle against polio -- Rotary clubs illuminated landmarks and
iconic structures throughout the country with four simple but
powerful words, “India is polio free.”

The three-year achievement sets the stage for polio-free
certification of the entire Southeast Asia region by the World
Health Organization. The Indian government also plans to
convene a polio summit in February to commemorate this
victory in the global effort to eradicate polio.

The challenge now is to replicate India’s success in neighboring
Pakistan, one of three remaining polio-endemic countries,
along with Afghanistan and Nigeria.

Rotary leaders in India are working with their Pakistani
counterparts to share best practices and lessons learned during
India’s successful anti-polio campaign. Rotary was particularly
effective in obtaining the support of influential religious leaders
in India’s Islamic communities. Pakistani Rotary leaders are
playing a similar role to counter rumors and misinformation
about polio vaccinations that keep some Muslim parents from
immunizing their children.

Meanwhile, National Immunization Days continue in both
countries. During these large-scale drives, Rotary volunteers
join health workers to vaccinate every child under age five
against polio.

“We must now stop polio in Pakistan to both protect Pakistani
children and to safeguard our success in India and other
countries where we have beaten this terrible disease,” says India
PolioPlus Committee Chair Deepak Kapur. “Until polio is
finally eradicated globally, all unvaccinated children will remain
at risk of infection and paralysis, no matter where they live.”

By Dan Nixon
Rotary News