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Bill Gates lauds CM for fight against polio

February 22, 2012
Kolkata: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has congratulated chief minister Mamata Banerjee after the state did not record a single polio case in a year.
“It is with utmost pleasure that I congratulate you on achieving a year without polio, a historic milestone not only in India but also for the world,” the letter from Gates reads.
“Since taking office, your leadership of the polio programme in West Bengal has been exceptional…. Your popularity as a people’s leader can help overcome community resistance to vaccinate and address migrant population which is at the highest risk for being under immunized,” says the letter, written on February 16 that reached the CM on Tuesday. According to an official of the CMO, Bill
Gates wrote the letter to Mamata Banerjee.
The country would have been polio-free by 2011, if it was not for a single case reported from West Bengal early last year. The lone polio case in the country last year was reported on January 13. An 18-month old girl from Howrah’s Panchla block was found infected by P1 virus, a strain that is known to cause massive outbreak.
The state health department and other stakeholders like Unicef pulled up their socks after the case was reported. Accordingly, 222 areas under different municipalities and gram panchayats across nine districts, including areas under two boroughs in Kolkata, were identified as vulnerable.
The imam of Nakhoda Masjid was roped in to combat resistance to polio vaccine from a community. The number of polio cases dropped hugely from 741 in 2009 to a two-digit figure of 42 in 2010, a decline of 95%. Out of these 42 cases, eight were from West Bengal — seven from Murshidabad and one from Birbhum.
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Categories: Public Health
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