Polio National Immunization Day, also popularly known as Polio Ravivar, will be observed today (January 31). On Saturday, President Ram Nath Kovind launched the first round of the Pulse Polio Programme for 2021 by administering polio drops to children less than five years of age at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey were also present during the event.
According to reports, the immunization drive will continue for the next three days till February 2.
It was earlier scheduled from January 17 but was rescheduled in view of the coronavirus vaccination drive that began on January 16.
"With the countrywide Covid-19 vaccination drive scheduled to be rolled out on 16 January, the MoHFW in consultation with the office of President of India has rescheduled the Polio vaccination day to 31 January, 2021," the Government of India had informed earlier.
In an official release, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that around 17 crore children of less than 5 years of age will be given polio drops as part of the drive of the Central government to sustain the polio-free status of the country.
The countrywide drive will be supported by about 24 lakh volunteers, 1.5 lakh supervisors, and many Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and Rotary, it said.
Healthcare workers will be visiting as many as 2 crore households to ensure that no child is left without the protection of the polio vaccine, they added.
Cherishing the success of the program, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, "Before the start of the program, India had 60 per cent caseload of Polio worldwide. With the last case of Polio reported in Howrah on January 13, 2011, the country has been free of Polio for a decade now," the release reads.
The Health Minister also appreciated the efforts of state governments, it further added. He also applauded the efforts of the thousands of volunteers, frontline workers, and health officials across the states for their tireless efforts in keeping the country polio-free, it said.
It said that applauding India's accomplishments along with the precautionary measures that should hence be taken, Health Minister said, "Polio-free certification' of the entire South-East Asia Region of WHO including India on the March 27 of 2014 was a huge accomplishment in the history of India and Global Public Health." However, the Health Minister stressed the need to remain vigilant and maintain the population immunity against polio with sensitive surveillance till global polio eradication happens, it added.
He said, poliovirus is still circulating in other parts of the world including our neighbouring countries which may re-infect us, the release reads.
(Inputs from ANI)