‘No room for complacency in polio eradication’
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A team of 28 Rotarians from USA, Australia, New Zealand and France are in the city to participate in the polio immunization programmes organised by Rotary International District 3080 as part of its campaign to eradicate polio from the country.
Led by Cynthia Right Covington of the USA, the 28-member team went to various polling booths in Mauli Jagran, Manimajra Town and Bapu Dham Colony in Sector 26 to administer polio drops, on the occasion of National Immunization Day on Sunday.
The team, consisting of 24 Rotarians from USA, one each from Australia and France, and two from New Zealand also went for a house-to-house operation in the morning.
Speaking on the occasion, Covington emphasised that though no case has been reported in India in the last two years, there is still no room for complacency. She said, "The country still has a year ahead for it to be declared completely polio-free."
Highlighting that India is a shining example in the world for eradicating polio through the remarkable collective efforts of the government and Rotarians, she said, "In the remaining three countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria ignorance and misplaced beliefs are the main obstacles."
Praveen Goyal, chairman of the polio eradication program of the district said, "Most of the cases of polio were found in the villages since the problem of sanitation existed there. But, overall, the coverage of the program has been immensely effective in all the states."
When asked about the last case found in Howrah in 2008, he said, "There are a lot of slums in that region, so poor sanitation might be the cause. A mass immunization program was launched immediately after the case was reported wherein 50 lakh children were administered polio drops."
Madhukar Malhotra, Former Rotary District Governor, added, "Rotary has been working on this project since 1985 when there were over 350,000 cases of polio worldwide in more than 125 countries. The government joined hands in 1995 and since then, Rotary has worked through the Global Polio Eradication Initiation (GPEI) to immunize more than two billion children and reduced the number of polio cases by 99%. On Jan 13, 2014, polio will be the second disease to get eradicated from the country after smallpox."
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