NEW DELHI, India, 05 August 2014 – It has taken almost two decades (1995 to 2014) to eradicate polio in India. At an inspiring event in New Delhi on 27th July 2014, UNICEF celebrated India’s victory over polio and put the spotlight on the thousands of front line workers, vaccinators and social mobilizers who played a significant role in making India Polio free.
The legendary Indian film actor and UNICEF’s Goodwill ambassador, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan graced this historic moment with his presence, Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Bachchan said,“While I have played a role in creating awareness about the issue, my contribution in making India polio free is very small compared to what these frontline workers and social mobilizers have done in taking the two drops of life to every child in every single household especially in states like UP, Bihar and West Bengal. No challenge was big enough to stop them in their mission.”
Eradicating polio has not been an easy task. India was one of the most difficult places in the world because of many social and public health challenges and high-density population. But India has shown the world that the impossible can be conquered. To tackle misconceptions and community refusals, UNICEF initiated robust communication strategies including mass media and inter personal communication both playing a critical role (more can be found here).
Amitabh Bachchan, the face of the polio mass media campaign for a decade, and 8000 strong community mobilizers (belonging to ‘SMNet’, the social mobilization network) who educated people from door to door, have been pivotal to ensure every child had been given polio drops and India becoming polio free.