Speech: WHO Director-General celebrates polio-free India

Speech: WHO Director-General celebrates polio-free India
Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization
Address at the “India celebrates triumph over polio” event;  New Delhi, India
11 February 2014

…India has shown the world that there is no such thing as impossible. This is likely the greatest lesson, and the greatest inspiration for the rest of the world.

India’s leadership in polio eradication is widely appreciated and warmly welcomed, especially among the 194 Member States of WHO. The country has shared its experiences, best practices, lessons learned, and expert staff with the remaining endemic countries.

The defeat of polio in India paves the way for certification of the entire South-East Asia region as polio-free, possibly at the end of March. When this happens, nearly 80% of the world’s population will be living in countries that are certified polio-free.

The polio-free status of every country remains under threat as long as poliovirus is still circulating anywhere in the world. We still have some way to go. But India provides the decisive proof that eradication is feasible, technically and operationally.

India is fully aware of the need to safeguard its magnificent achievement. Immunization against polio remains high, and emergency preparedness and response plans are in place to respond urgently to any importations.

India will continue its role as a global leader as the Polio Endgame is implemented, including through the introduction of inactivated polio vaccine and the stepwise phasing out of oral polio vaccine.

Right now, the country is using the legacy of its polio success to intensify routine immunization, with a special emphasis on reaching underserved and marginalized populations.    The elimination of measles will likely be the next permanent improvement for the health of India’s people.

The 13 January news that India had now gone 3 years without a polio case made headlines around the world. This is a monumental achievement that fully deserves today’s celebration.
Full text of speech: http://www.who.int/dg/speeches/2014/india-polio-free/en/index.html