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Patil launches bivalent polio vaccine
Published on 9 Jan. 2010 11:12 PM IST
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President Pratibha Patil Saturday launched a new round of the national polio immunization campaign with a bivalent vaccine that is capable of simultaneously controlling two strains of the virus. Beginning Sunday, the vaccine will be administered throughout the country, barring Uttar Pradesh, where it will be introduced in the next round. The vaccine is being introduced for the first time in India. Earlier, separate rounds of immunization vaccines were being administered to tackle the P1 and P3 strains. While P1 is the wild strain, P3 is the less virulent form. Both strains are active in India, primarily in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Patil launched the campaign by administering polio drops to 10 children at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here. Speaking on the occasion, Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said about 2.5 million kids will get the new drops Sunday. In 2009, at least 721 cases of polio were reported, of which 641 were P1 and 79 P3 cases. One case was a mix of both viruses. Of the total cases, Uttar Pradesh accounted for 571 cases, followed by Bihar, where 114 cases were reported last year. There are three strains of wild polio virus - P1, P2 and P3. The P2 wild polio virus was eliminated in 1999. Efforts are being made to eradicate P1 and P3 also. The Pulse polio programme was started in India in 1995 with the objective of eradicating polio. Prior to the start of the campaign, the number of paralytic cases due to polio was in the range of 50,000 every year. Meanwhile, thanking the 25 million Indian diaspora for contributing to their country of origin, President Pratibha Patil Saturday praised the efforts of Indian workers in the Gulf who account for 40 percent of inward remittances worth $50 billion. Addressing the concluding session of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the country’s annual conclave to connect with its diaspora, Patil said $20 billion in inward remittances to India annually come from contractual skilled and semi-skilled workers in the Gulf. “They often face harsh living and working conditions and are separated from their families for long periods of time. I take this opportunity to salute Indian workers in the Gulf.” Some 1,500 delegates from 50-plus countries took part in the convention. The president said India managed to ward off the adverse impact of the global slowdown much better than many other countries and managed to grow at 6.7 percent last fiscal, and with a bright prospect of registering over 7 percent expansion this year. “In the post-crisis world, India is increasingly perceived as one of the principal engines of growth, a safe destination for investment and an emerging educational and technological hub,” she said. “There is immense capacity that you have both in talent and in financial terms, that can be invested in India. We hope to see your greater participation in the coming years in the development of India.” The president said India was looking at an investment potential of $500 billion in sprucing up physical infrastructure alone over the next five years. This apart, the country is also looking at expanding social infrastructure in healthcare and education. “The expenditure on healthcare infrastructure in the country is projected to grow at 5.8 percent annually. This presents an unprecedented opportunity including for our overseas community to participate and benefit in India’s unfolding growth story.”

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