Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been chosen for the first Gates Vaccine Innovation Award, instituted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for the state`s successful immunisation programme, an official said Tuesday.
"Nitish Kumar has been chosen for the award for improving routine immunisation from 18.6 percent in 2005 to 70 percent till last year," the official said.
A health department official told IANS that Bihar has recorded a drastic fall in infant mortality rate and has not recorded a single polio case in the last fifteen months.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation launched the award last year, which carries a purse of $250,000 (Rs.1.3 crore).
Last May, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates showered praise on Nitish Kumar for his impressive performance of rapid vaccination of children in the state, saying "people are hungry for visionary leaders" who deliver upon their promises.
"I was struck by the chief minister`s popularity," he said in his address to the 64th World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organisation.