This is a jingle that we all have heard so many times. At times it was irritating and at times, we just let it pass. If we had a child aged under 5 years in our house, we did the needful and took our little ones to this camp for getting her/him immunised.
But make no mistake, this has been an overwhelmingly important and successful campaign that the Government has undertaken and the results are for us to see. India has been declared a Polio Free region. This being the result as there were no reported new cases of Wild Polio Virus for three consecutive years, which is a pre-condition set up by WHO to attain this tag of a Polio Free Region. The last reported case of Polio in India was in Jan-2011 in Howrah-West Bengal.
I recently needed to prepare my travel documents for travelling to Ethiopia. As part of these documents, I was mandated to get myself immunised for a Polio vaccination ( I am 42 years old ). I can be a carrier of this virus when I visit such affected countries. Hence, the government has mandated that all travellers must get this certificate before one travels to these countries. Pune has one such government centre in Narayan Peth, which administers this polio vaccine. It is headed by one Dr Milind Khedkar. It is not about one Dr Khedkar, but about the numerous such centers which have executed this campaign very successfully over the past 5-6 years, which has resulted in elimination of the polio virus, so far. We must realize that there are thousands of villages across India, many of them inaccessible, but yet such vaccination teams reached the door step of children to administer this virus.
The Narayan Peth center was a super slick setup, with trained personnel. No fuss. All it took was 10 minutes to get myself immunized and get the certificate of immunization which was needed by me for firming up my travel plans to Ethiopia. The entire system was super efficient. They had all statistics displayed all over the place which I was reading and which made me realize the enormity of the success that has been achieved.
Mind, you, this is no mean task. Take Pakistan, which has been trying to get their act together for the same immunization. They have been trying. Yet, some 295 new polio cases were reported till 25-Dec for the year 2014. They have their own problems in the North West Frontier and this has caused a major spread of the virus.
It is a sad scenario, where a young child is affected by Polio, which stays with him for life, and for no fault of hers/his. All it takes is some one administering “Do Boond Jindagi Ke…”.
Each Polio campaign in India was a herculean task. 2.3 million vaccinators and 155000 Supervisors would visit 209 million households across India to immunize 170 million children up to 5 years of age, in every single campaign. Remote locations, bus stands, railway stations, weekly markets, roads, schools were targeted to bring the virus under control. Brand ambassadors were roped in to get the message across.
It is in this context that we must celebrate the tremendous effort of the likes of Dr Khedkar and his team at the local level. His predecessors and all the entire machinery that works across India must be congratulated for making this a successful campaign. Although, there have been reports of the WHO/UN bankrolling this effort on a massive scale. Yet, there was a definite will in its planning and specific targets were set up and a follow-up process was put in place to achieve this. No mean task, given that it had to be done across India. It also demonstrates, that all tasks can be effectively managed & executed – only someone has to plan & implement. Friends just think, if we all applied our minds and undertook tasks with good planning (I am not saying excellent, but merely good planning), this WILL make a difference in our quality of life. We owe this to our future generations.
Coming back to the Polio Campaign, I think this effort of the Polio team (over the past 4-5 years) must be lauded and be given due recognition. Do your part, go and visit this centre in Narayan Peth in Pune or your nearest Polio centre wherever you are in India. Congratulate them. Nominate them for an award. Boost their morale. Pat their backs for a job well done. If India is free of this virus, it means that 1/6th of the World population is free of this virus and it also means that the world can rest assured that this virus will not spread from India.
( The author is Vice-President – Global Operations of a Medical Device company. Likes to express & seek your opinion on everything that affects us directly/in-directly or remotely. )