Polio-Free India now aims at total elimination of VPDs

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Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan . File photo

New Delhi (NVI): As the Polio-free India celebrates 25 years of its successful Pulse Polio Programme, the country now aims for 100 per cent full immunization coverage so that not a single child or pregnant woman dies of Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VPDs).

The Health and Family Welfare Ministry is embarking on a new drive for full immunization  with the launch of Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 2.0 from December 2019 that will continue till March 2020. Several ministries are coming forward to join hands in taking the mission forward.

October 2, 2019 marked the 25 years of the first Pulse Polio campaign in Delhi, which was later adopted and implemented by Government of India as ‘Pulse Polio Campaign’ across the country.

The implementation of Polio Supplementary Immunization Activity played a key role in India’s attainment of polio-free status in 2014, which the WHO  termed as “one of the most significant achievements in public health”.

During the silver jubilee celebration of Pulse Polio Programme, Health and family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “I laud the efforts of community and religious leaders who joined hands as advocates of this mission. I cheer for the efforts of the nation’s youth ambassadors, celebrities and sportsmen who supported in building the campaign. I salute the stalwarts of our country, our ASHA workers, ANMs, Anganwadi workers (AWW) who ensured all doors were knocked”.

In 1988, the World Health Assembly (WHA) passed a resolution to launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). The Government of Delhi piloted the first ever large scale supplementary immunization campaign with Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) in 1994 based on evidence of successful campaigns in other countries, an official statement said.

This was when the “Pulse Polio” immunization campaign was born, followed by iconic ‘Do Boond Zindagi Ki’ tagline. The then Health Minister of Delhi, Dr Harsh Vardhan, piloted the first Pulse Polio campaign in Delhi on October 2nd October.

The campaign in Delhi reached nearly 1.2 million children up to the age of three years with two doses of OPV being administered on 2nd October, 1994 and 4th December, 1994 through exclusive booth-based strategy. This strategy was later adopted and implemented by Government of India as Pulse Polio Campaigns.