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TheSouthAsianTimes.

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HEALTH

February 22-28, 2014

15

The Rotary campaign has succeeded in India. To commemorate three years without a single polio case, which will get the nation polio-free certification from WHO in March, some iconic buildings like India Gate in Delhi were illuminated at Rotarys initiative last month.
By Parveen Chopra anuary 13, 2014 was a historic day for India and Rotary. On this day the nation completed three years without a case of polio, thereby standing entitled to achieve the polio-free certification from World Health Organization (WHO). The entire nation rose to commend this incredible success of India while Rotarians across the country celebrated in a befitting manner illuminating iconic buildings and monuments to observe this achievement, reports Ashok Mahajan, Member, International Polio Plus Committee, and Past Trustee of Rotary International. The India Gate and Red Fort in Delhi were illuminated, as were Air India Building in Mumbai, Junagarh Palace in Bikaner, Red Fort in Agra, Teeli Wali Masjid in Lucknow, Hyderabad Public School in Hyderabad, Neelam Cinema in Chandigarh, and many more. There were rallies, festive gatherings, banners and hoardings across town, etc. While Rotary International made eradication of polio from the world its signature campaign from 1988, special attention was paid to India, which was the worlds largest polio-endemic country. So, a global strong partnership of the government of India, Rotary, UNICEF and WHO was formed. Bringing down polio cases from 500 estimated a day in 1988 to only one case in entire 2011 was a miracle. And now no case since then! The mass immunization campaign in India twice a year administering of polio drops to millions of childrenrequired manpower, advocacy and huge sums of money. Rotary engaged in extensive advocacy efforts with political leaders, bureaucrats, religious leaders along with strong

The entire nation rose to commend polio-free status while Rotarians across India celebrated by illuminating iconic buildings and monuments like India Gate in Delhi last month.

Past Trustee of the Rotary Foundation Ashok Mahajan administering polio drop to a child on the eve of National Immunization Day in Mumbai. Looking on are Maharashtra Governor K. Sankarnarayanan , his wife, and philanthropist Mrs. Rajashree Birla.

Ashok Mahajan, Member, International Polio Plus Committee, Mrs Rajashree Birla, who has contributed over $8 million through Aditya Birla Group of companies, singer Anup Jalota and a friend at the Air India building in Mumbai which too was illuminated for the three-year no polio case milestone.

social mobilization efforts. In India big donors to Rotarys polio campaign have included Rajashree Birla, Ushal Mittal and individual Rotarians like Harshad Mehta along with in recent times Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Cyrus Poonawala. Internationally, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave $355 million to Rotary for a polio-free world.

Since 1988, with Rotarys efforts, more than two billion children around the world have been immunized against polio. The incidence of polio has since declined by over 99 percent. The surveillance and laboratory network developed for polio eradication is one of the best in the world and is often utilized by health workers for detecting other emerg-

ing infectious diseases such as yellow fever and measles. The visibility and popularity of the program have led political leaders to increase budgets for polio immunization campaigns as well as other health programs in several countries, India in particular. Ravi Bhooplapur, prominent Rotarian and Past Governor of Rotary District 7250 in New York,

Students of Xavier University School of Medicine, Aruba (XUSOM), participated in End Polio Walk in Aruba -2012. Ravi Bhooplapur is President of the school.

Past Governor of Rotary District 7250, Ravi Bhooplapur, along with Rotary Foundation Chair Wilf Wilkinson in Aruba 2012.

is ecstatic on receiving word from India. He had made several trips to remote parts of Maharashtra, and taken teams from the US to pitch in for the polio campaign. For making India polio free, Bhooplapur commends the efforts of Past Rotary International Presidents Raja Saboo and Kalyan Banerjee, Past Trustees Ashok Mahajan, Sushil Gupta, and Pandurang Shetty, Past Directors Shekhar Mehta and YP Das and thousands of Rotarians from India and around the world. Now, areas in India bordering Bangladesh and Nepal are still polio-risk, so polio drop administration will continue. Polio yet remains to be eradicated from Pakistan, Nigeria, Yemen and Syria, the last witnessed an outbreak recently. Looking forward, Rotary now has in place the 2013-2018 Polio Eradication End Game and Strategic Plan budgeted at $5.5 billion.