Healthier future for millions of children as India becomes polio-free


WEBWIRE – Tuesday, February 11, 2014

NEW YORK/NEW DELHI – Today, millions of children have a better chance of a healthier future, as India marks the achievement of moving from being a polio-endemic country to polio-free.

Experts once believed India was the most difficult place in the world to stop polio and would be the last country to accomplish eradication.  Until 2009, India accounted for at least half the global polio cases every year. India has not reported any case of wild poliovirus since 13 January 2011

“India’s success is the success of every child who will grow up free from polio. It is also the world’s success – proof positive that we can defeat the scourge of polio, even in places once thought impossible,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director.

“The government of India achieved this victory over polio by refusing to rest until every child – even the hardest to reach – was immunized.” 

As a partner in the polio eradication programme, UNICEF supported critical communication efforts to engage communities in accepting the polio vaccine. UNICEF also set up a network of some 9,000 community mobilisers, who made repeated visits to families and counselled them on the importance of polio vaccination.
 
The polio programme network in India is now being used to improve immunization against other vaccine preventable diseases, particularly measles.
 
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About UNICEF:

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. 

For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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