India’s triumph over polio celebrated
Pragati tiwari | 05 May 2014

Polio Free Certification to the South-East Asia Region of WHO accorded



The Aditya Birla Group, in collaboration with the Government of Maharashtra and Rotary International today celebrated the ‘Polio Free Certification to the South-East Asia Region of WHO’, at Raj Bhavan (Mumbai) with the Honourable Governor of Maharashtra, Shri K. Sankaranarayan as the Chief Guest. 


The Governor paid accolades to – the Government of India, Ministry of Health, the Government of Maharashtra, the Mumbai Municipal Corporation and Rotary International and to Mrs. Rajashree Birla and the Aditya Birla Group for playing a singular role in this remarkable triumph over polio.


One of the most ardent polio eradication champions, Mrs. Rajashree Birla said – “For us in India to have become a ‘polio free’ country, and to have come this far, the Government of India, the Government of Maharashtra, the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, WHO, Rotary International, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others have played a singular role.  We owe this remarkable triumph over polio to them.  We, in the Aditya Birla Group, worked very closely with them”.


Mrs. Birla added that at the Aditya Birla Group’s 50 plants and in Mumbai, their CSR teams ensure that, all children from the time of their birth, up until the age of 5 are vaccinated.  Over the last 5 years, the Aditya Birla Group, have helped vaccinate nearly 22 million children, managing 73,693 booths.  Furthermore, the Group’s teams operate at railway stations and other critical points as well, to make sure that children are immunized.  Paying accolades to the Government of India and the Government of Maharashtra, Mrs. Birla mentioned that – “the number of children immunized during the ‘National Immunization Day’ is an incredible 170 million. 


Adding a word of caution, Mrs. Birla commented that polio still exists in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.  Regrettably, new cases of polio, are getting reported from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber Pakthunkhwa in Pakistan – and this area is considered as the engine for polio transmission in the country.  In Afghanistan and Nigeria, the situation is looking better but even a single case is already one too many.  Syria, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Kenya suffered outbreaks of polio cases in 2013, after being free of polio in 2012.  So the resurfacing of polio is an area of concern.  Hence, there is no room for complacency.  In India, we have to continue the momentum.  We have to maintain, sensitive surveillance and as WHO has advised us, we must ensure high childhood immunity, against the polio virus.  This is vital to ensure that no strain of polio is imported to our country, until Polio eradication is attained worldwide”.


Speaking on the occasion Rotarian, Shri Ashok Mahajan rejoiced the end of polio as a great achievement, and stated – “an achievement that has brought 11 countries in the Southeast Asia region to be certified Polio-free. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste and India.  SEAR is home to approx. 1.8 billion people, which in other words also mean that about 80 percent of the world is now polio-free - a remarkable achievement in the campaign to end Polio globally”.  


Earlier, Mr. A. K. Agarwala, Director (Aditya Birla Group Companies) in his welcome address averred that “the end of polio in India is among our greatest achievements.  With this, all the 11 countries in the South East Asia Region are now certified to be polio free”.