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Child Mortality: Indian minister calls for ‘Health Sainiks’

Aug 20, 2014

The high child mortality rate in India is a national shame, said Dr Harsh Vardhan, the Indian Health Minister.

New Delhi: It is a ‘national shame’ that 14 lakh children do not live beyond the age of five. To change this reality the government needs the collective energy of the people, and should not rely on the government machinery.

Making this observation in New Delhi at the launch of a music video, “Phool khil jayenge” (“The flower will bloom”), on the subject of immunization, India’s Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “Let’s make a pledge here to become ‘health sainiks’ and each of us would strive to inspire other ordinary people to become health volunteers to work for a healthy nation.”

In 1994, Dr Harsh Vardhan, in his capacity of Delhi’s Health Minister, had motivated hundreds of school children to become “polio sainiks” with the task of seeking out families with small children who needed polio immunization. It was their commitment and sincerity which resulted in the success of the first pulse polio day in Indian history –October 2, 1994.

“Today we are poised to replicate India’s success with polio eradication which was brought about by the unrequited and unpaid labour of thousands of people. We need more such heroes and heroines to make Universal Immunization in India a success,” the Minister said.

The music video was made by Global Health Strategies in collaboration with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. The lyrics have been penned by Javed Akhtar, and the video features Vidya Balan and Farhan Akhtar. The music is by Lalit Pandit and the song is sung by Sonu Nigam. The five-minute film emphasises the importance of providing immunity from disease to a child through timely inoculation.

The Minister stressed that ensuring that children live to be adults is an apolitical mission. “I have formed close ties with the health ministers of non-BJP ruled states and are getting their cooperation to forge a road map to a healthier India.”

The event was attended by Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Sonu Nigam, Lalit Pandit, Union Health Secretary Lov Verma, Additional Health Secretary C.K. Mishra and Joint Secretary Dr Rakesh Kumar.

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