New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee Saturday launched the pulse polio immunisation programme for 2014, administering pulse polio drops to six small children.

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was also present at the function at Rashtrapti Bhavan, pointed out that in this round of the polio campaign, more than 17 crore children will be vaccinated, an official release said here.

It has been decided that any case of wild polio shall be treated as a public health emergency, Azad said.

He said India has not recorded even a single case of wild polio in the last three years, which is a historic achievement.

Narrating the journey India took to achieve this feat, the health minister said that as polio virus transmission in some parts of the country was intense, experts believed that India was the most difficult place in the world to stop polio transmission.

However, accepting the challenge, the country in 2010 launched bivalent oral polio vaccine with the president administering the first drops of the new vaccine to the children.

Azad said the programme had the immense support of the religious and opinion leaders as well as social mobilisers who won over resistance through effective communication of the benefits of polio vaccination.

Source: IANS