In an innovative move towards polio eradication, the Indian and Pakistan cricket teams, though fierce rivals on the field, will be united in their mission to “bowl out polio” when they clash for the third One-Day International in New Delhi on Sunday.
“We need to ensure a world free of polio paralysis for children. We need to win against polio, to ‘Bowl Out Polio’,” said Pakistani cricket stars Yonous Khan and Imran Farhat, who on Saturday administered polio drops to children in New Delhi and joined the appeal for eradication of the debilitating disease.
The two teams will wear ribbons with ‘Bowl Out Polio’ when they play the One Day International on Sunday.
The electronic periphery boards at the Ferozshah Kotla grounds will flash the message of “Bowl Out Polio”.
A hundred children will also be at the stands wearing yellow jackets with messages against polio. The cards for ‘4s’ and ‘6s’ waved by the crowds will also have the message “Bowl Out Polio”, a Unicef statement said.
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 January 13, India completes two years without reporting any case of polio, an unprecedented progress for a country which until 2009 contributed majorly to the global polio case count.
This is the third time that India and Pakistan teams have got together to advocate for polio eradication.
Globally, polio cases have declined to record low levels.
In 2012, as on December 26, 215 polio cases were reported compared to 605 cases in the same period 2011. Three countries remain endemic to polio — Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
Polio is a disease which cripples for life, has no cure, but can be prevented by repeatedly taking oral polio vaccine, said the statement.