New Delhi: Rotary International has stepped up its parnership with UNICEF and WHO to carry out an extensive communication strategy in support of the national polio eradication programme in India.
It has awarded UNICEF a $3 million grant for social mobilization activities focused in more than 4,300 communities at high risk due to ongoing virus transmission in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The current grant comes on top of another $3 million grant awarded to UNICEF in November 2007 for polio communication activities this year. Rotary International also extended a $2.65 million grant to WHO to support high-quality surveillance for polio viruses by its National Polio Surveillance Project in India.
“This tremendous support comes at a crucial time for the polio eradication effort,” said Dr. Gianni Murzi, UNICEF representative in India. “It allows us to continue our intensive effort to engage with families around the need to protect every child against this disease by ensuring they receive oral polio vaccine.”
Dr. Murzi expressed confidence that with support from Rotary, and other partners such as USAID, DFID and the Government of Canada, UNICEF would be able to ensure strong communication support to the national and state governments throughout 2008.
WHO Representative to India Dr. Salim Habayeb said, “Good quality surveillance for communicable childhood diseases, most notably including polio, is central to the success of India’s development efforts and its national programmes under the overall umbrella of the Government’s commendable National Rural Health Mission.”
Deepak Kapur, chairman, India National PolioPlus Committee of Rotary International, said that intensifying communication efforts now is critical to breaking virus transmission. “We have made unprecedented progress in the last few months in stopping the transmission of Type 1 polio in parts of Uttar Pradesh that had never been polio-free. Now is the time to step up momentum to get polio out of India forever. Communication to that extent is vital in getting families to understand the benefits of immunization and is a critical piece of the overall strategy to make that happen.” he said.
Funding from Rotary International to UNICEF to support following activities in UP and Bihar:
*Deployment of 4,045 community mobilizers in 40 districts of UP
*Social mobilization with underserved communities through Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Hamdard
*National mass media campaigns for polio eradication and routine immunization
*Intensive community engagement through support to ICDS in mobilizing anganwadi workers in more than 20 districts of Bihar for polio campaigns
*Deployment of 300 community workers to engage with families in the Kosi River area in Bihar as well as select urban pockets on the importance of immunization and protection of children from polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases