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New Delhi  February  12, 2014:- The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee attended the function to celebrate the eradication of Polio in India which was organized by Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare today (February 11, 2014) at Talkatora Stadium, New Delhi. 


Speaking on the occasion, the President said that India’s success against polio is indeed a milestone towards universal health care in the country. It proves the efficacy of the innovative tools and strategies applied by Government of India for the prevention and treatment of the communicable and non-communicable diseases. 

The President said that experts had feared that India’s high birth rate, population density, poor sanitation and low level of awareness about this disease would make the objective of polio eradication almost impossible to realize. Today, India has demonstrated that despite all the constraints faced by health authorities in a populous and very large developing nation like India, eradication of diseases like polio is possible. Our victory over polio will pave the way for the certification of India and other countries in the South East Asia Region as ‘polio-free’. He said that today was indeed a day of celebration. 

The President said that the organization and successful delivery of the polio immunisation, through nearly 2.3 million vaccinators to 170 million children, multiple times in a year and the positive outcome of these drives, would not have been possible without a high level of enthusiasm, total commitment and the tremendous ability to mobilize all sections of the society. The leadership of the Union Ministry of Health and the Health Departments in the States and the political support, strong political determination and involvement of all sections of society brought us success. It proved once again that if we work together unitedly and with commitment, nothing is impossible. 

The President stated that disease and viruses know no borders. Controlling and eradicating the polio virus has been a major challenge for the frontline workers, volunteers, vaccinators, health workers and community mobilisers in all our States and Union Territories who made this possible. They braved inhospitable terrain, rough weather and unfamiliar local conditions to reach every child. Their teams spread out systematically in a widespread national network to motivate and safely vaccinate millions of our children. Their campaigns were well co-ordinated and extensively publicised well in advance – and were taken up across the length and breadth of our country. We salute them on behalf of a grateful nation and recognize their valuable contribution on this day. 

The President commended the parents, grandparents and care givers in all sections of society who followed the prescribed precautions and ensured the timely vaccination of the children in their care, making sure that each dose was given at the intervals prescribed. Community and religious leaders, teachers, doctors and volunteers - including popular film stars and other celebrities and thousands of silent supporters selflessly joined this grand national effort. Medical officers, health department officials and partners like the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International and donors including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave their invaluable support and wholeheartedly involved themselves at all stages. He said that we gratefully acknowledge their valuable contribution on this happy occasion. 

The President also emphasised that having reached this position, it is necessary for us to remain ever alert and watchful; our people would continue to be at risk of re-infection till the whole world is fully free of the polio virus. He said that we must now strive to create a polio free world. 

Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India; Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of National Advisory Council; Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare; Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha; Shri A.H. Khan Choudhury and Smt. Santosh Chowdhary, Ministers of State for Health and Family Welfare; Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General, World Health Organization and Shri Ron D. Burton, President of Rotary International. 
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