New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday launched the Pulse Polio Programme for 2017 under which about 17 crore children of less than five years age will be immunised. The drive is a part of the government's efforts to sustain polio eradication from the country.
Launching the programme on the eve of National Immunisation Day, Mukherjee administered polio drops to children less than five years old at Rashtrapati Bhavan here.
Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda, who was also present, said: "Polio-free certification of the entire Southeast Asia region, including India, is a huge accomplishment in the history of public health."
The World Health Organisation on March 27, 2014 declared India polio free. The last case of polio was reported on January 13, 2011 in the country.
Nadda said the risk of importation from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria -- three countries where the virus is still circulating -- still persisted.
The country needs to maintain the population immunity and sensitive surveillance till global polio eradication, the Health Minister said.
According to the Health Ministry, the government is conducting continuous polio vaccination at the international border with Pakistan.
"An advisory has also been issued for vaccination of all travellers between India and eight other countries," Nadda said.
"An Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (EPRP) is also in place in all states/union territories for urgent response to any importations of polio virus," he said.
Stating that there is a need to provide double protection to children, Nadda said: "The government has also introduced the injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) into its routine immunisation programme.
India has reduced under-five mortality rate from 75 per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 45 in 2014," Nadda said.
The second phase of the programme will be conducted on April 2.
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