Japan grants UNICEF India Rs 7.2 cr to fight polio

Japan government has given a grant of Rs 7.2 crore to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) India for purchase of vaccines, supplies and equipment to ensure that India remains polio-free. 

India completed a year without reporting any case of polio in January, 2012 and was removed from the list of polio endemic countries by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on February 25 in New Delhi.

Akitaka Saiki, Japanese ambassador and Karin Hulshof, UNICEF Indian representative, signed the grant at a ceremony in the Japanese embassy on Monday.

Saiki lauded India’s efforts and tremendous work done by international partner agencies such as UNICEF and WHO, for India’s progress against polio. “We salute this grand achievement.

The grant assistance would also contribute to our friendship with India,” he added. 

Hulshof expressed her gratitude towards Japan’s contribution by saying: “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.” 

Dr Ajay Khera, deputy commissioner immunisation, ministry of health and family welfare commended the polio partnership for their support and coordination which reflected in the “application of focused and evidence based strategies.”

However, UNICEF believes that the risk of polio persists in India because of continuing polio virus transmission in other countries. 

The challenge for India is to maintain the gains, by ensuring all children up to five years of age are protected against polio. 

“This can be attained by addressing associated risk factors by promoting routine immunisation, hygiene, sanitation, exclusive breast-feeding and diarrhoea management with zinc and ORS.

“The programme also needs to be extremely vigilant to rapidly detect and respond to any case of polio virus importation anywhere in the country as a public health emergency,” added Hulshof. 

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