PCI Celebrates Progress in India's Goal to Eradicate Polio

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PCI, along with several other international organizations contributes to zero new polio cases

India Polio Vaccine pic

“There was a time when the community was not aware of the benefits of polio eradication and instead, believed that the vaccine would lead to serious side effects including fertility problems,“ commented V.S. Gurumani, PCI’s Country Director in India.

Through a collaborative effort involving PCI (Project Concern International) and several other international global health organizations, there has been no confirmed case of polio for the first time in twelve months in a targeted region of Uttar Pradesh (U.P.). Due to the tireless efforts of thousands of vaccinators, supervisors and community mobilization members, this was the first time in history that wild polio virus transmission was interrupted in Moradabad, U.P, which was once labeled the epicenter of polio in the world.

The government of India and the state government of Uttar Pradesh, supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, Rotary International, USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and CORE lead an effort to vaccinate 172 million children throughout India with an oral polio vaccine, on an ongoing basis. In U.P. alone, more than 40 million are reached almost every six weeks. These routine immunization efforts contributed to the outcome of the absence of polio cases this last year. PCI as a member of the CORE Group Polio Project (CGPP), has been at the centre of all the action, leading the efforts in Moradabad over the last several years in what has been no less than an epic battle fighting the disease. Other members of the CGPP are World Vision, ADRA and CRS.

The global polio eradication initiative began in 1988 with the 41st World Health Assembly declaring its commitment to eradicate polio by the end of the year 2000. In India, efforts have been continuing since 1995 when the Pulse Polio immunization campaigns were launched, which aimed at 100% coverage. It aspires to reach all children, including those in remote communities through an improved social mobilization plan.

“There was a time when the community was not aware of the benefits of polio eradication and instead, believed that the vaccine would lead to serious side effects including fertility problems,“ commented V.S. Gurumani, PCI’s Country Director in India. This stimulated aggressive resistance and behavior from citizens towards vaccination teams.

In response, a Social Mobilization Network (SM Net) was established, consisting of CORE and UNICEF to provide support to vaccination and polio education efforts in high risk areas of U.P. The CORE Group Polio Project (CGPP) includes a funded office and CORE members ADRA, PCI and CRS, working in 56 blocks across 12 districts of Uttar Pradesh.

CORE-PCI conducts public education activities on various levels in three districts of Uttar Pradesh. 650 Community Mobilization Coordinators (CMCs) are responsible for outreach to families in very high-risk for polio areas. They use various tools for behavior change including one-to-one meetings, group meetings and meetings with community leaders. Since the mobilization members are from the same community, with the help of local influencers, printed FAQs, and appeals from religious leaders, they have been successful in converting resistance into acceptance. Today, more than 300,000 families are educated about polio, and monitored every month.

Though India has had a year with no polio cases, to be certified completely free of the dreaded disease, there have to be two more years without any fresh incidence. So, the battle continues for all those involved in this effort.

To learn more about PCI and its impact of global health and humanitarian work, please visit http://www.PCIglobal.org or contact Annette Gregg, Senior Director of Marketing & Communications, at (858)279-9690.

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Annette Gregg
PCI Global
858-279-9690 x368
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