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India Offers Cooperation to Pakistan to Eliminate Polio
Oct 25, 2014

India has offered the Government of Pakistan full cooperation in helping eradicate polio from that country. Pakistan accounts for 85 percent of the world’s polio cases today, a cause for concern for India, her immediate neighbour to the east.

On the occasion of the World Polio Day, India welcomed Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif’s recent declaration of adoption of a National Emergency Action Plan-2014. The programme will be fully State funded till 2018. The plan 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.

India’s social mobilisation network for the fight against polio was originally conceived in 1994 and has been lauded by all international organisations including World Health Organisation, UNICEF, Rotary International and United States Centre for Disease Control. 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 India pointed out that the two countries had already talked of institutionalising 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. In the context of Pakistan and Afghanistan, polio is just a bus ride away. Because of this special measures have been put in place at border crossings. These include vaccination facilities for travellers travelling both ways to Pakistan and having emergency response plans in place along with teams to execute them. 

The Ministry of Health is taking steps to introduce the injectable polio virus in the Universal Immunisation Programme from 2015. This is in line with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s action plan to replace oral vaccines with the injectable variety. 

Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF India Representative said, “India’s experience of eradicating polio proves that the obstacles which stand in the way of our ambitious goals for children can be overcome. UNICEF remains a committed partner in the polio eradication effort and our social mobilization network will continue to be active and harness this great momentum and leverage it for broader health initiatives for improving the lives of children.” 


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