India is polio free: WHO
PTI NEW DELHI INDIA, which has been poliofree for over a year now, was on Saturday taken off the list of polio endemic countries by the World Health Organisation.
This announcement was made by Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad at the polio summit 2012 in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Azad said he has received a letter on Saturday morning stating that the “WHO has taken India’s name off the list of polio endemic countries in view of the remarkable progress that we have made during the past one year.” There were only four countries in the WHO endemic list, including Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan.
After being removed from the list, India will have to remain polio free for the next two years to achieve the poliofree status with concerted efforts and an emergency preparedness and response plan, WHO representative in India, Natela Menabde said.
The Prime Minister, while lauding the achievement, said the real credit goes to 23 lakh volunteers who repeatedly vaccinated children even in the most remote areas.
He said the success of the effort shows that “team work pays”. Singh said, “This gives us hope that we can finally eradicate polio not only from India but from the face of the earth.” Noting that insurance schemes tended to focus on inpatient care, Singh said India needs to work towards hasslefree and cashless outpatient care in its public hospitals.
Singh also said that education and health will be the key priorities of the 12th Five Year Plan and stressed that more efforts were required to reach the goals of increasing public expenditure on health to 2.5 per cent of GDP.
Crediting the 23 lakh volunteers who helped India achieve the feat of a year free of polio cases, Singh said the government needs to accelerate efforts to achieve the goal of providing universal access to health care. “This needs first and foremost a determined effort to strengthen our public health system,” he added.
Demonstrating his commitment to take forward the goal of universal access to health, the PM said two-thirds of private health care expenditure is on outpatient and diagnostic care and purchase of medicines.
Noting that insurance schemes tended to focus on inpatient care, Singh said the government needed to work on cashless OPD care in public hospitals. This is also a major recommendation of the highlevel expert group of the Planning Commission to show the vision of universal health care which had also proposed cashless health package for all.
Backing universal health care, Singh said the vision would unite all in a concerted effort to promote everyone’s health.
“Just as the polio campaign saw the state and central governments working closely with a common purpose, I am confident that the vision of universal health care will unite all of us in a concerted effort to preserve, protect and promote the health of all our people,” he said.