13 January 2012 must go down as a golden date in modern Indian history. It marked one year since the last polio case in India. Once considered the epicenter of the world’s polio, the Indian government implemented the Pulse Polio program in 1995 and in less than two decades eradicated this debilitating disease.
Stand up and take a bow India!
Over the past six years, I have had the pleasure of watching this program in action. It is nothing short of miraculous. The success of the program is a combination of political will at the top and dedicated implementation at the grass roots. The program volunteers go from house to house and ensure that every child is administered the pulse polio vaccination.
The path to 13 January 2012 was far from easy. In a country filled with superstition and illiteracy, this achievement in nothing short of miraculous. But calling it a miracle will be insulting the doggedness of the health workers who went into the darkest corners of the country to ensure that no child was left behind.
Even cases like the Bengal one where a doctor ended up having to bear all the treatment expenses of a child whose parents wrongly believed had developed cellulitis of the heel after it was administered the polio vaccination did not slow down the movement.
The table below tells a story. One that was written with determination and dedication.