President launches countrywide Pulse Polio Programme for 2016

President launches countrywide Pulse Polio Programme for 2016

Shri J P Nadda: “Polio-free status for five years is a treasure for all of us” 

The President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee launched the Pulse Polio programme for 2016 by administering polio drops to children less than five years old, at the Rahstrapati Bhawan, in the presence of the Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Shri J P Nadda, here today. Tomorrow is the National Immunization Day. Around 17.4 crore children of less than five years across the country will be given polio drops as part of the drive of Government of India to sustain polio eradication from the country. 

Speaking at the function on the eve of the National Immunization Day, the Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare Shri J P Nadda said “Polio-free status for five years is a treasure for all of us”. He also said: “India has been now validated for Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus elimination in May 2015, well before the global target date of December 2015. This is a monumental achievement in the country’s efforts to achieve universal health care and address health inequities”.

The Health Minister pointed out that it is not the end but a new beginning to sustain what the country has achieved with tremendous hard work and patience. As polio is now endemic in only two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the world is at last stage of polio eradication, he added. In order to mitigate the risk of importation, the immunity against polio infection is maintained through National and Sub National Polio rounds along with sustained high quality polio surveillance, he added. “We are vigilant and that is the reason we are conducting continuous polio vaccination at the international borders with India. A travel advisory has also been issued as per WHO guidelines to vaccinate all travellers who are travelling between India and eight other countries namely Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Cameroon, Syria, Ethiopia, Somalia & Kenya. Also, an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (EPRP) is in place under which Rapid Response Teams (RRT) have been formed in all States/UTs to respond urgently to any importations of poliovirus”, Shri Nadda stated.

The Health Minister mentioned that in a landmark step to provide double protection to our children and securing our gains of polio eradication, Government of India has introduced the injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) into its routine immunization program along with oral polio vaccine from 30 November 2015. In the first phase IPV has been introduced in six States, viz Assam, Gujarat, Punjab, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. He added that “We are also planning for switch from trivalent OPV to bivalent OPV in some months in a globally synchronized manner”.

The Union Health Minister applauded the efforts of the thousands of volunteers, frontline workers, health officials across the states and development partners for their tireless efforts in keeping the country polio-free.

Also present at the function were Shri B P Sharma, Secretary (HFW), senior officers of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and representatives of development partners. 
Shri J P Nadda Launches Mobile Health Services– Mobile Academy, Kilkari, M-Cessation and TB Missed Call initiative – to Strengthen Public Health Infrastructure

“Will improve access, empower communities and enhance awareness about health services in the country” 
“The m-health initiatives launched today will enhance access; make our services cost effective and our systems more robust. We are on our way to realize the vision of our PM by going digital, said Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare. He was speaking at the launch of four mobile health (mHealth) services – Kilkari, Mobile Academy, M-Cessation and TB Missed Call initiative, here today. This launch, which is part of the Government’s Digital India programme, is in line with its commitment to prioritise public health and strengthen citizen-centric health services by leveraging India’s expanding mobile phone penetration.

Highlighting the importance of such initiatives, Shri J P Nadda, further added, “These four mobile health services will be a game changer in health communications. I am confident that these initiatives will bring us closer to people who need our services the most.” He further stated that in keeping with the vision of the Prime Minister for a Digital India based on harnessing technology for the benefit of people, the OPD registration at AIIMS, New Delhi has been made online which has resulted in cutting down waiting time of a large section of people from about six hours to nearly one hour.

Kilkari, which means ‘a baby’s gurgle’, delivers free, weekly, time-appropriate 72 audio messages about pregnancy, child birth and child care directly to families’ mobile phones from the second trimester of pregnancy until the child is one year old. Kilakri is being launched in Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and High Priority Districts (HPDs) of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in the first phase.

Mobile Academy is a free audio training course designed to expand and refresh the knowledge base of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and improve their communication skills. Mobile Academy offers ASHAs a training opportunity via their mobile phones which is both cost-effective and efficient. It reduces the need to travel – sometimes great distances – and provides them the flexibility they need to learn at their own pace and at times they find convenient. Mobile Academy is being launched in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.

Together, these services aim to improve family health – including family planning, reproductive, maternal and child health, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene – by generating demand for healthy practices by empowerment and capacity building at the individual and community level, and by creating an enabling environment.

M-Cessation aims at reaching out to those willing to quit tobacco use and support them towards successful quitting through text messages sent via mobile phones. When offered along with traditional services, M-Cessation has been found to be cost-effective in comparison to traditional options for cessation support. This is first time in the world that such a two way service is being provided as part of any mHealth initiative.

Under TB Missed Call initiative, a helpline with a toll free number will provide information, counselling and treatment support services for TB. Under this campaign the callers can give a missed call or call for free to get information related to TB symptoms, treatment services available, address and contact details of the nearest treatment facility etc. Initially the service will be available to people in the States of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi.

The Health Minister appreciated the efforts of Gates Foundation, UNICEF, USAID and other development partners in complimenting the efforts of the Government and invited suggestions from the stakeholders to strengthen the programme further.

Also present during the meeting were Dr Jagdish Prasad, DGHS, Shri C K Mishra, AS &MD (NHM), Shri Anshu Prakash, Joint Secretary, Shri Manoj Jhalani, Joint Secretary, and Shri Rahul Mullick, Chief Technology Officer, Gates Foundation. 

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