Rotary Internationals India National Polio Plus Society (INPPS) has been working all over India to educate the masses at grassroot level on polio. The results are showing now as we are on the verge of eradicating polio from the country, said Deepak Kapur,chairman,INPPS. Kapur leads the India Polio Eradication effort for Rotary and has been associated with the global polio eradication initiative for more than two decades
Kapur said as many as 3,000 Rotary clubs have been actively maintaining and developing corpus of funds for the cause. The contributions from private donors and corporates from across the world have helped tremendously in the global fight against polio,he added.
He said the disease has been eliminated from 99 per cent of the world,including India,where not a single case of polio has been reported for over two years. This is a huge achievement as the mass immunisation model adopted to eradicate the disease was seen as a big challenge in a country of Indias size and diversity,he added.
Rajashree Birla of the Aditya Birla Group last year committed an additional $1 million to the Rotary Foundation for its polio eradication efforts,taking her total contribution to over $6.2 million while Harshad Mehta of Rosy Blue Diamond and Usha Mittal of ArcelorMittal Steel have contributed over $3.5 million and $1.5 million respectively for the cause.
Rotary International,a body of businessmen and professionals which raises resources from its members for various social causes,has played a significant role in this regard. It has already spent over $1.2 billion globally for fighting polio. In September 2012,the humanitarian organisation committed an additional $75 million over the next three years for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative,a global movement launched by Rotary International,WHO,UNICEF and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. It is now backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations Foundation, he said.
According to Kapur,however,a funding gap of $660 million (of the total budget of $1.053 billion) does not augur well for the global polio eradication efforts,especially when the virus is still rampant in Pakistan,Afghanistan and Nigeria.
The campaign against polio is at a crucial stage globally. As long as the disease claims victims in any country,the world cannot be declared polio-free and the possibility of an outbreak remains very much real. The polio virus can again sneak into India from the neighbouring countries if global efforts against it falter now. This provides a powerful argument for Indias rich to step up to the plate and loosen their purse strings for social causes, said Kapur.