India sets goals of eliminating measles and neo-natal tetanus

After finding success in the fight against polio, the government of India has decided to eliminate deaths from measles and neo-natal tetanus by strengthening immunization activities.

The country declared 2012 the year of intensifying routine vaccination. The vaccination will be enhanced through special drives, particularly in the 207 districts that have recorded low coverage. Ghulam Nabi Azad, the union minister of Health and Family Welfare, spoke on the subject of vaccination at the Polio Summit 2012 in New Delhi on Sunday, NetIndian reports.

"Some of our learning and lessons from the polio program could prove to be extremely useful in accomplishing these tasks," Azad said, according to NetIndian.

Azad said that the government was strengthening the state governments' ability to fight disease by increasing funding through the National Rural Health Mission and other centrally-funded plans.

"With increasing public investments in health from our own domestic resources, what we need more from our partners is catalytic and technical support," Azad said, according to NetIndian. "I am confident that together we would be able to ensure that India not only becomes polio-free but that all our children are fully protected against every preventable disease."

Azad hoped that countries where polio remains endemic, such as Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, could soon achieve similar success.

"Our success can be attributed to the progressive strengthening of our polio program made possible by unflinching political commitment and provision of adequate financial resources," Azad said, according to NetIndian. "Beginning by covering 88 million children up to the age of three years in 1995, the program has now expanded to cover 174 million children up to the age of five years. The emphasis that we put on innovations in implementation of the polio-plus program has been extraordinary."

Azad urged organizations, including the Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to provide the impetus necessary for routine immunization and to connect it with strategies to eradicate polio.