VIDEO: How children helped boost polio vaccination rates in India

Editorial Team

Editorial Team

April 17th, 2012

Editorial Team

BgfAt the recent TEDxChange event hosted by The Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates led a series of talks on the simple but ambitious theme of making the world a better place.

One of the most remarkable stories was of the so-called who empower local communities to effect real change.

In practice, this means mobilising children in Kolkata, India, to go door-to-door with home-made megaphones, mobile phone technology and GPS maps, encouraging neighbours to avail of polio vaccination programmes.

The result? Around 40% of children had visited the vaccination centre prior to the launch of the programme. That has risen to 80% and activists are hoping to get close to 100% vaccine-uptake rates in the years to come.

India is one of four countries where in some areas polio is still endemic. However, earlier this year, India celebrated one year ‘polio-free’ and local officials and international agencies are optimistic that this progress can be sustained – and maybe even used as a template elsewhere.

WATCH: The Revolutionary Optimists | Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

What is TED?

TED began in 1984 as a conference devoted to ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’. These days it has grown into a global phenomenon, attracting renowned speakers and spawning a plethora of spin-off events across the world.

Bill Gates has himself given majors presentations at a TED event on malaria, and World Health Organization polio expert Dr Bruce Aylward delivered a landmark talk on the global drive to beat polio.