Recently Added Document

View All Documents
Select Filters


UNICEF hosted a special evening to honour Amitabh Bachchan's contribution to polio free India. India's iconic actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Mr Bachchan has been the face of the polio mass media campaign for over a decade. The evening also celebrated the critical role community mobilisers and frontline workers have played in making India polio free.
Held on 27 July 2014 at the Thyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi, the event brought together over 1,000 men and women of the UNICEF-supported Social Mobilisation Network SMNet in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar; representatives of partners of the polio programme - Govt of India, WHO, UNICEF, Rotary; celebrities and cricketers who had endorsed the campaign. The event was presided by the Honorable Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan.
Mr Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF India Representative, said, "Mr Bachchan has been the face of polio's mass media campaigns for over a decade. His one-liner 'do boond zindagi ki' (two drops of polio vaccine) has been one of the most effective messages in the fight against polio." Mr Arsenault thanked all partners and donors associated with the polio progamme - Rotary International, WHO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Core group of NGOs, USAID, JICA and GAVI. He acknowledged the contribution of the Aligarh Muslim University and the Jamia Milia Islamia in garnering support of the underserved communities.
Rotary International Past President, Mr Kalyan Banerjee, and WHO Representative to India, Dr Nata Menabde, were also present on the occasion.
The polio awareness campaign is one of the most visible and popular health awareness campaigns in the country. For over a decade, through posters, TV and radio spots, Amitabh Bachchan reached out to people requesting, cajoling, pleading, even scolding, them to take responsibility to wipe out polio. The campaign has had a high recall value thanks to Amitabh Bachchan's immense popularity and credibility across the country, and specially in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The Polio Programme thanked Amitabh Bachchan for lending his voice of support. The actor in turn, graciously thanked the vaccinators and mobilisers, saying they were the real heroes of the programme, and he was privileged to be part of the campaign. "I am delighted that our efforts in spreading awareness and mobilizing communities for polio vaccination have been successful. But this fight was not an easy one. We must thank the thousands of UNICEF-supported SMNet mobilizers and Government vaccinators who have made this victory possible," Mr Bachchan said. A short film showcasing the commitment of mobilisers and frontline workers in reaching every child was screened on the occasion. The film's voiceover is by Amitabh Bachchan.
Honorable Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said India's feat of being polio-free is a victory for the millions of health and community workers who broke many barriers to reach out to the unreached children. "They allayed fears and addressed misconceptions. They built partnerships with the local community and religious leadership. It is because of their efforts of going door to door, administering polio vaccine to children and educating people about the importance of the polio vaccine, that India could achieve this success," he stressed.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said Mr Bachchan is open to helping the Govt with other health campaigns. In the context of post-polio India, the Minister stressed the need for building on the Pulse Polio experience. "Let us, in 2014, revive the 1995 spirit. There are many other diseases demanding pulse polio-like missions involving the coming together of the medical community and general society. So let us all work together to ensure 'Health for All' for a better and stronger future," Dr Harsh Vardhan said. Mr Bachchan said he was also open to being part of similar polio campaigns in countries such as Pakistan which are still fighting the virus.
The 8,000 strong UNICEF-supported SMNet in India is acknowledged globally as the trailblazer in polio communication. Many polio endemic and re-infected countries such as Nigeria, Pakistan, Chad have replicated the SMNet model. This network comprising of mostly women, and from the community that they work amongst, enjoy complete trust of the community. The SMNet is now counselling families on Routine Immunization, diarrhea management, exclusive breastfeeding, hygiene and sanitation.
Cricketers Virender Sehwag, Mohd Kaif and Murali Karthik were also present on the occasion. Cricketers and cricket teams have lent their support through the Bowl Out Polio Campaign. Former Indian captain Ravi Shastri and the late Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi even helped address refusal by visiting pockets of resistance in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the early years.
Sadaf Parveen, a CMC (community mobilisation co-ordinator) from Malitola village in Basti district, Uttar Pradesh, gave the vote of thanks. Parveen, 27, was handpicked for this honour for her exceptional work towards polio immunisation.
Mr Louis Georges Arsenault, UNICEF, reminded everyone that though India is polio free, the risk still persists. "Until the disease is eradicated globally, we need to continue to protect children against the virus and remain in a state of preparedness to respond to any case of polio virus importation as an emergency. We need to work together to improve Routine Immunization, eliminate measles, address open defecation and sanitation to improve overall health of children in India. Polio has shown us the path, let us tread for broader health goals," Mr Arsenault emphasised.