`Getting rid of polio can save $2 trillion`

Last Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 - 18:50

New Delhi: Getting rid of polio will give a huge boost to the world economy, saving $2 trillion spent on vaccination every year, Rotary International president Kalyan Banerjee said here Sunday.

"Once polio is wiped off the face of earth, more than $2 trillion can be saved," Banerjee told IANS on the sidelines of the Polio Summit, jointly organised by health ministry and Rotary.

"A large amount spent in vaccination rounds will be saved. In addition, the millions saved from getting paralysed due to the virus, will also contribute to the economy," he said.

India, the largest polio endemic country, was taken of the World Health Organisation list, after completing a year without reporting a single polio case. The announcement was made here at the summit Saturday.

According to health ministry officials, India still has a budget of around Rs.1,100 crore per annum for carrying out vaccination rounds. The amount sought for polio in 12th plan is slightly lower than the 11th plan, at the tune of Rs.4,400 crore.

Rotary International, the spearheading member of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and the largest private sector donor till date, has contributed nearly 1 billion dollars (Rs.5,000 crores) worldwide to end Polio.

In India alone, Rotary has contributed $148.8 million (Rs.744 crores) to fund eradication activities.

Talking about the Indian success story, the Rotary president said that besides government efforts and investment of a huge amount of resource, the credit largely goes to the volunteers and health workers, who worked as foot soldiers in the war against polio.

"It is important to keep the volunteers highly motivated. They played the key role," he said.

Follow ups of vaccination was also an important task -- Rotary distributed cell phones to thousands of workers to send updates of the immunisation status to the responsible authorities.

According to the Independent Monitoring Board, which is an independent organisation evaluating the progress of polio campaign, the success was largely due to the grassroot level workers.

Maintaining the status will be a challenge and regular immunisation with same vigour is need of the moment, said Banerjee.

"We can celebrate the past achievement, but we also have the future challenge, and both are equally exciting," he added.

IANS



First Published: Sunday, February 26, 2012 - 18:50

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