GOODBYE POLIO – A dream come true

Story Procured and edited by: Rhea Sahni (SC -Delhi)

“In 1984, I came across a UNICEF report called ‘State of the World’s Children’ with an article titled ‘No more polio in Brazil’. It stated that Brazil had eradicated polio by declaring National Immunisation Days on which every child, under the age of 5, was administered the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV).

I had recently passed my M.D. (Pediatrics) and was working as a lecturer in BJMC Pune but taking cue from this success story, I planned a movement called ‘Goodbye Polio’ for India. Three holidays- 2nd October, 14th November and 25th December were selected as the immunization days, placed one and a half month apart, giving the necessary interval for vaccination.

I went from class to class and appealed to the students to join the movement. Students from all years- motivated with the idea of doing social work- gathered in huge numbers. Our first rally started on 2nd October 1985 in the slums of Aundh. A group of medicos entered the slum and administered 2 drops of OPV to every child. We clicked photographs of the mother and child and offered them for collection on the next immunisation day. This was to ensure that the mother turned up to collect her photograph on the next immunisation day and the baby gets vaccinated at the same time!

The local postmen also helped us in a unique manner. Since they knew the families on a regular basis, they made sure that the children of the households were brought in for vaccination.

Due to the ever-evolving technologies, we ensured almost 100% coverage of children via computerisation. The program, which started in 417 slums of Pune, was successfully extended to the entire Pune district in co-operation with the Pune Municipal Corporation. Later, the Government of India launched a nationwide polio eradication campaign and India was declared polio free in 2014.

I feel proud when I meet and listen to the original volunteers narrating their memories of this wonderful campaign. The venture was appreciated by none other than Dr. Stanley Plotkin, Father of  Vaccinology, when I participated in the Advanced course in Vaccinology (ADVAC) in France in May 2011.

Now when I look back to the efforts which started 36 years back, I really feel satisfied  that the dream of Polio free India is fulfilled.  Medicos have tremendous potential. They can perform wonders in different areas under guidance of able partners.

12 years later, “Goodbye Polio” became the template for the national ‘Pulse Polio Campaign’, which resulted in the eradication of polio from India. As the history of Polio eradication in India is written, I feel immense proud and contentment to see my name as its trailblazer and architect.”

Dr. Pramod Jog

MD, DNB, FIAP

Prof. of Paediatrics

D.Y.P. Medical College, Pune

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