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Rotary International Organized a Two-Day Meet to sustain ongoing efforts in Eradicating Polio

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 Rotary International’s India National PolioPlus Committee (INPPC) commenced the ‘National Orientation and Planning Meet’ (NOPM) on Polio in the city, today. The event began with the inaugural ceremony  amidst senior officials from the India Polio campaign. The meet recognizing the role Rotary leaders (all volunteer members from different professional fields) play in their community will deliberate upon the way forward for the campaign particularly in sustaining the eradication goal in the wake of “zero’ polio status in the country.

At this annual meet on Polio, incoming Rotary leaders (2013-2014) were entrusted and motivated to lead the Polio eradication effort. The meet was graced by representatives from Government of India and from partner agencies like WHO, UNICEF along with the Rotary International’s senior leaders, National Committee Members, District Governors, District PolioPlus Chairmen and other special invitees.

The new Rotary leadership from 34 Rotary districts across the country committed themselves to advancing Rotary’s humanitarian goals foremost being global eradication of Polio. Observing India’s role in guising other endemic nations in the fight against Polio, Dr. Robert Scott, Chairman-International PolioPlus Committee of Rotary International said, “Considering the demographics, sheer size of India, the programme implementation and dedication from all and the achievement is commendable. If India can do it for Polio, so can the others. India is a shining example and the endemic nations are looking up to it for lessons and best practices”.

Ms. Anuradha Gupta, IAS, Additional Secretary and Mission Director (NRHM), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GOI was also present during the meet. She stressed upon the importance of routine immunization in preventing Polio and other childhood diseases.

We are only 9 months away from achieving the regional Polio-free certification. “India reported the last wild polio virus type 1 case in Howrah, West Bengal, on January 13, 2011. If the eradication effort is complacent now, polio could rebound quickly, potentially paralyzing thousands of children a year”, said Mr. Deepak Kapur, Chairman India National PolioPlus Committee, the volunteer body that is entrusted to spearhead the campaign for Rotary in India.

“Polio still exists in Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan, where it has never been stopped”, said Dr. Sunil Bahl, Deputy Project Manager, NPSP – WHO, the technical experts that manages the surveillance and monitoring of wild Polio virus in India. “The danger prevails as India shares borders with these neighboring countries where Poliovirus has been rampant last year”, Bahl added.

To make Polio history, GPEI has recently presented a 6 year plan ‘2013-2018 Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan’. Public health experts have said that ‘if the polio eradication campaign succeeds, the world would not only declare it the second disease to be eradicated after smallpox’; it would also save billions of dollars and not to mention millions of children from a crippling future. A 2010 analysis found that if polio transmission were to be stopped by 2015 the net benefit from reduced treatment costs and productivity gains would be about $40 billion to $50 billion by 2035.

The meet called upon Rotarians from all across the country to excel their efforts in achieving Rotary’s humanitarian goals. Since India is inching closer towards regional Polio Free certification, Rotarians pledged to continue their efforts in keeping India Polio-free forever. This meet was a platform to strengthen the resolve, identify the challenges and strengths and also to motivate Rotarian (volunteer members) for the task ahead. Additionally, the NOPM served as a perfect platform to earmark new targets and milestones – particularly 100% coverage on National and sub-National Immunization Days (NIDs/SNIDs) and the strengthening of Routine Immunization amongst others.

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