NEW DELHI, India, 11 February 2014 - UNICEF congratulates the Government of India and the people of the country on this magnificent achievement today - the triumph over polio. From being the world’s most polio endemic country to polio-free, India’s accomplishment is astounding. Experts believed India was the most difficult and last place in the world to stop polio. But India has proved the impossible is possible.
This is a triumph for India today, but even so for the soon to be certified region and for the world. India success is a huge morale boost for the global polio eradication programme. It shows that polio eradication is possible!
The achievement today is a due to the strong political commitment of the Government of India and the State Governments; the seamless partnership for ending polio in the country between WHO, Rotary and UNICEF; and the tireless efforts of the millions of community workers - the vaccinators, mobilizers, health workers - and ultimately the parents who came forward to accept polio vaccine for their children, round after round, year after year.
Today there is a complete community buy-in and ownership of the polio programme. This success was not possible without the relentless efforts of the over 9,000 strong community mobilisers of the Social Mobilization Network, in the polio endemic pockets of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
I would like to specially acknowledge and thank the polio brand ambassador Mr Amitabh Bachchan, and other celebrities who lent their voice and face to the polio campaign, making it one of the most successful media campaigns in the country.
The success of polio programme is laying footprints for other priority health issues especially routine immunization. Lessons from polio are guiding other maternal and child health initiatives on ways to reach the inaccessible and the most vulnerable populations.
UNICEF is extremely proud of India’s success and stands committed to supporting the Government of India to ensure the country remains polio free until the disease is eradicated globally.