India, Pakistan teams unite to Bowl Out Polio

from UN Children's Fund
Published on 05 Jan 2013 View Original

New Delhi / Islamabad, 5 January 2013: Clashing for the One Day International match in Delhi, the India and Pakistan teams are however, united for a common goal - to defeat polio. Cricket stars Younus Khan and Imran Farhat today administered polio drops to children and joined the appeal to Bowl Out Polio.

“We need to ensure a world free of polio paralysis for children. We need to win against polio, to Bowl Out Polio,” they said.

The players appealed to parents and polio workers to ensure that all children up to the age of five years are protected against polio, with two drops of oral polio vaccine in every round, so that polio is eradicated at the earliest.

As a symbol of their commitment to the cause, India and Pakistan teams will wear ribbons with ‘Bowl Out Polio’ when they play the One Day International tomorrow. The electronic periphery boards at the Ferozshah Kotla grounds will flash the message of “Bowl Out Polio”.

Joining the teams to appeal for polio eradication will be about one hundred children on the stands wearing yellow jackets with polio messages. The ‘4s’ and ‘6s’ cards waved by the crowds will also read “Bowl Out Polio”.

The Board of Cricket Control in India and the Pakistan Cricket Board have extended full support to the polio eradication messages at the match.

While Pakistan is among the remaining three countries in the world still fighting the disease, India’s battle against polio will continue until polio is eradicated globally.

The event comes a week ahead of India’s polio milestone anniversary. On 13 January 2013, India completes two years without reporting any case of polio, unprecedented progress for a country which until 2009 contributed the majority of cases to the global polio case count. Pakistan has shown significant progress against polio: by the end of the 2012 just 58 cases had been reported from across the country compared to 198 cases in 2011.

This is the third time that India and Pakistan teams have come together to advocate for polio eradication. In 2004, the captains of the two sides ran with children holding “Bowl out Polio” banners in Pakistan. In 2007, the players got together during a test match in India to administer oral polio vaccine to children, symbolic of their support and commitment to rid their countries of the crippling disease. The events struck a poignant chord in both countries and helped garner community interest and support to the polio eradication programme.

Globally, polio cases have declined to record low levels. As of 26 December 2012, 215 polio cases were reported compared to 605 cases in 2011. With India being removed from the polio endemic countries’ list on 25 February 2011, only three countries remain endemic to polio: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. India recently introduced mandatory polio vaccination for children travelling between India and Pakistan to prevent polio virus importation. The government of Saudi Arabia has also introduced mandatory polio vaccination for Pakistani nationals travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Haj or Ummrah.

For further information please contact:

Azmat Abbas, Media Specialist, Polio, UNICEF Pakistan Country Office
E-mail: Mob: 0321 9545726

Shamila Sharma, Communication Specialist, Polio, UNICEF India Country Office
Email: Mob: +91 9818595937

Caroline den Dulk, Chief, Communication, UNICEF India Country Office
E-mail: Tel: +91 11 24606228