Government of India stands committed to increasing public investment in health : Ghulam Nabi Azad
The Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad has said that learnings and lessons from the Polio programme could prove to be extremely useful in accomplishing the tasks of elimination of measles related child deaths and neonatal tetanus in India. Shri Azad however emphasised that continued vigil, effective emergency preparedness and response needs to be maintained as we cannot afford to let our guards now on polio virus. Addressing the valedictory session of the two-day Polio Summit 2012, Shri Azad reaffirmed commitment to funding the Polio program fully with domestic funding and willing to lend all possible support for global eradication of polio. He recalled that Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh at the inaugural yesterday said that Government of India stands committed to increasing public investment in health. Shri Azad informed the gathering that President of the Republic of India, who launches the annual National Pulse Polio round, has conveyed her personal greetings and commendation on the historic public health milestone that has been achieved with WHO’s decision to take India off the list of countries with active endemic wild poliovirus transmission, The Union Health and Family Welfare Minister said “strengthening routine immunization is an imperative if we wish to sustain our gains in polio and guard ourselves against both distant and international importations. Thus 2012 has been declared the year of the intensification of Routine Immunization. We intend to accelerate routine immunization activities from 1st April itself through special immunization drives, with a special focus on 207 districts recording low routine immunization coverage”. Shri Azad added that 26 million mothers and children have already been registered under the web enabled mother and child tracking system set up by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The system generates weekly work plans for the Auxiliary Nurse Midwives through SMS. Alerts are also sent to the beneficiaries to remind them of the date of the due health services. Shri Azad urged Rotary International, WHO, UNICEF, CDC, Gates Foundation, GAVI and other partners to now work to provide impetus to routine immunization and synergize polio eradication and Routine Immunization strategies. He informed that in 14 States where coverage is less than 80 percent, introduction of second dose of measles has been started. Our target is to cover more than 130 million children under this campaign. The two-day Summit emphasised perseverance, innovation and accountability as the hallmarks of India’s polio programme. Shri Azad said he would look forward to another polio summit after January, 2014 when, hopefully, India would be declared Polio Free.