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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Reflections of Experts on a Decade of Wild Polio-Free Certification in the South-East Asia Region

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Reflections of Experts on a Decade of Wild Polio-Free Certification in the South-East Asia Region

Interviews with Four Polio Eradication Experts

On 27th March 2014, India was officially declared wild polio-free, marking a significant moment in the global health crisis. As the last country in the WHO South-East Asia Region to achieve this milestone, India’s success paved the way for the entire region to be certified wild polio-free. As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of this achievement, we reflect on the efforts of key experts who played crucial roles in polio eradication in India. Let’s hear from Deepak Kapur, Dr. Roma Solomon, Dr. Jay Wenger, and Dr. Naveen Thacker on their experiences and insights.

Dr. Naveen Thacker (President, The International Pediatric Association)

Dr. Thacker shares his journey as a pediatrician witnessing the devastating effects of polio in 1994, which motivated him to embark on a mission to combat the disease. His advocacy efforts, collaboration with Rotarians, and policy shaping work were crucial in India’s fight against wild polio. He emphasizes the power of partnerships, community engagement, and the role of healthcare providers in addressing vaccine hesitancy.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Power of Partnerships: Global strategies aligned with local efforts
  2. Community Engagement: Involving socioreligious leaders in overcoming resistance
  3. Significance of Vigilant Surveillance: Maintaining a polio-free status needs continued effort

Dr. Jay Wenger (Director, Polio, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

Dr. Wenger’s role in ensuring accurate surveillance systems and government commitment at all operational levels was crucial to the success of polio eradication in India. He highlights the need for consistent commitment, action, and course-corrections at the grassroots level to overcome challenges in the fight against polio globally.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Government Commitment: Translating into operational action is essential for success
  2. Utilizing Infrastructure: Strengthening health systems beyond polio eradication
  3. Maintaining Vigilance: Continuous efforts to prevent polio re-emergence

Dr. Roma Solomon (Former Executive Director, CORE Group Partners Project India Secretariat)

Dr. Solomon led community engagement efforts through the CORE Group Polio Project in India, emphasizing the importance of compassion, empathy, and social justice in convincing mothers about the benefits of vaccination. She stresses the need for a unified approach and involving people at the grassroots level to ensure program effectiveness.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Empathy in Communication: Understanding and addressing reasons for refusal
  2. Unity in Diversity: Partnerships leading to a people’s movement for polio eradication
  3. Global Awareness: Urgency in recognizing and appreciating progress made

Deepak Kapur (Chairman, Rotary International’s Polio Plus Committee)

Deepak Kapur shares his journey with Rotary in advocating for polio eradication in India since 1995. He emphasizes the importance of a never-say-die attitude, power of partnerships, and transforming programs into people’s movements to ensure sustainable success in global health endeavors.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Never-Say-Die Attitude: Persistence and commitment in overcoming challenges
  2. People’s Movement: Involving beneficiaries for program effectiveness
  3. Survival Strategies: Intense immunization efforts and world-class surveillance systems

FAQ

What were the key takeaways from Dr. Naveen Thacker’s interview?

The key takeaways included the power of partnerships, community engagement, and the significance of vigilant surveillance.

What strategies did Dr. Jay Wenger highlight for overcoming challenges in polio eradication?

Dr. Wenger emphasized the importance of government commitment, utilizing infrastructure, and maintaining vigilance to prevent polio re-emergence.

How did Dr. Roma Solomon approach community engagement in the fight against polio?

Dr. Solomon focused on compassion, empathy, and social justice as key factors in convincing mothers about the benefits of vaccination, stressing the need for unity in diversity.

What did Deepak Kapur emphasize in his advocacy for polio eradication?

Deepak Kapur highlighted the importance of a never-say-die attitude, power of partnerships, and turning programs into people’s movements for sustainable success.

Conclusion

As we reflect on India’s 10-year wild polio-free status, these experts’ insights serve as reminders of the collective efforts, partnerships, and community engagement that made this triumph possible. The lessons learned from India’s polio eradication journey hold valuable strategies for global health initiatives aiming to stop the virus worldwide.


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