UNICEF Sunday launched a year-long plantation program "Nurturing Trees, Nurturing Lives", to intensify awareness about routine and polio immunization and to emphasize need for vaccination of every child.
"On this day last year, India was removed from the polio endemic countries list by the World Health Organization (WHO). If we could stop polio, we can surely also prevent other life threatening diseases in children such as measles, Hepatitis-B, diphtheria," said UNICEF representative to India Louis-Georges Arsenault.
Launched by cricketer Suresh Raina, "Nurturing Trees, Nurturing Lives" will have National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers and school students from over 500 educational institutions planting around 36,000 saplings and pledge to spread awareness on routine immunization vaccines and polio immunization.
"Many experts had predicted that India will be the last country to stop polio. But India proved them wrong. With the involvement of youth and children, we look to mobilizing parents across the country to ensure vaccination for their children," Arsenault said.
According to UNICEF, nearly 1.6 million children under the age of five years die in India every year. A large number of these deaths can be prevented with the lifesaving vaccines.
"With India's remarkable progress against polio this year, the polio eradication program priorities have shifted to addressing polio associated risk factors to prevent polio virus importation, the most important being boosting routine immunization coverage," Arsenault added.