Rotary International yet again has honoured Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, as a Champion in Worldwide Efforts to Eradicate Polio.
Azad was presented with the award at a function in Evanston, Chicago, on Friday. Trustees and Board of Directors of Rotary Foundation from all over the world and Rotary International office bearers and members attended the function held to recognize the efforts made by India and to honour Azad's leadership in particular.
Accepting the award, Azad said: "I take this opportunity to re-affirm India's commitment to complete polio eradication."
He further reiterated that vaccination is one of the most cost effective public health interventions, since it provides direct and effective protection against preventable morbidity and mortality.
"India runs one of the world's largest immunization programmes whereby around 26 million children born every year are covered," he added.
Azad also said that an emergency preparedness and response plan has been put in place and any case of wild polio would be treated as a public health emergency.
In his acceptance speech, Azad also recounted the several new initiatives that have been taken to improve both coverage and quality of India's universal immunization programme.
Azad said that vaccine for Japanese Encephalitis has been introduced in 111 districts in 15 states having a high disease burden; Hepatitis B vaccine, earlier introduced in 10 states, is now being extended to the entire country.
The Polio Champion Award is given by Rotary International since 1995 to recognize governments and world leaders who have made outstanding contributions toward the goal of eradicating polio.
Azad was conferred this honour in 2010 also.