India is just nine days away from reaching a milestone that will officially certify the country as "polio-free", said Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday while addressing a large contingent of NRI doctors and physicians in Ahmedabad.
"When I took over as the health minister in 2009, India had 50 percent of the polio burden of the world. Today were are just nine days away from having an India that has been polio-free for three years," said Azad while addressing the valedictory session of a global healthcare summit organised by American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI).
The minister emphasised the importance of this milestone by saying that these three crucial years with zero polio cases being reported will help India get an official tag of being "polio-free" from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The last case of polio was reported from West Bengal in January 2011.
"This will be one of the greatest thing to have happened in this country," said Azad who described his four-and-half-year-old tenure as the Union health minister as the "most satisfying" in his three-decade-old political career.
The minister said that it took 2.3 million volunteers and 150 thousand supervisors to administer polio drops to 170 million children at "one-go" in the country. "This exercise was a huge one," he added.
Azad who listed out his ministry's various achievements, also said that he would be launching the Urban Health Mission in Bangalore on January 20.
Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi was also present during the valedictory session for AAPI that saw about 350 NRI doctors, a majority of whom are from the US, attend. The summit also saw 700 physicians from India participate.