His Excellency Ambassador, Akitaka Saiki and UNICEF India Representative, Ms. Karin Hulshof, signed the Exchange of Note at the Japanese embassy.
NEW DELHI, India 26 March 2012 – Continuing support to the polio eradication initiative in India, the Government of Japan today provided 120 million Yen (Rs 7.2 crores) grant to UNICEF for purchase of vaccines, supplies, equipment and services in 2012 to ensure India remains free of poliovirus.
His Excellency Ambassador, Akitaka Saiki, and UNICEF India Representative, Ms. Karin Hulshof, signed the Exchange of Note at a ceremony in the Japanese Embassy here. Shinichi Yamanaka, Chief Representative, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), India Office, and Ms Hulshof signed the Grant agreement.
Mr Saiki lauded the concerted efforts of the Government of India, States and international partner agencies, spearheaded by UNICEF and WHO, for India’s progress against polio. India completed a year without reporting any case of polio in January this year and was removed from the list of polio endemic countries by the World Health Organization on 25 February 2012.
“We salute this grand achievement,” the Ambassador said. The Grant assistance would further contribute to our friendship with India, he added.
Thanking the Government of Japan, Ms Hulshof said, the “unwavering support and confidence evinced by the Government and the people of Japan in India’s polio eradication efforts has been extremely encouraging and reassuring in the country’s long drawn fight against polio.” India overcame huge challenges to achieve the remarkable milestone this year mainly due to the resilient leadership and commitment of the Government of India, the relentless efforts of the millions of frontline workers and the strong partnership.
Dr Ajay Khera, Deputy Commissioner Immunization, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, also commended the polio partnership for their excellent support and coordination which reflected in application of focused and evidence based strategies.
The JICA Chief Representative, Yamanaka, said, “Japan remains committed to keeping India free of polio cases”.
The support from JICA in 2011 helped UNICEF roll out rapid and intense communication response to the poliovirus in Howrah, West Bengal, and sustain the efforts in the months thereafter. The speed, intensity and quality of the response to the Howrah virus helped curtail further spread of the virus and ensured that it remained the lone case of polio in India in 2011.
However, the risk of polio persists in India in view of continuing poliovirus transmission elsewhere in the world. The challenge for India now is to maintain the gains, by ensuring all children up to five years of age remain protected against polio and by addressing associated risk factors by promoting routine immunization, hygiene, sanitation, exclusive breastfeeding and diarrhea management with zinc and ORS.
The programme also needs to be extremely vigilant to rapidly detect and respond to any case of poliovirus importation anywhere in the country as a public health emergency. The continuation of the intensified efforts is crucial in ensuring India remains free of poliovirus till polio is eradicated globally.
For media queries and more information:
Shamila Sharma, Communication Specialist, Polio, UNICEF India
Tel: +91-98-1859-5937; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org