‘The Final Inch’ Towards Eradication in India

Oscar-nominated documentary provides reminder of the effort required to eradicate polio

Fatima Munzareen is one of the film’s ‘stars’, travelling from house to house encouraging parents to vaccinate their children against polio. Vermilion Pictures
Fatima Munzareen is one of the film’s ‘stars’, travelling from house to house encouraging parents to vaccinate their children against polio.
Vermilion Pictures

23 January 2012 – In 2009, a short documentary was released that highlighted the dedication and perseverance of India’s four-million-strong army of polio eradication warriors – ‘The Final Inch’. Three years on, the country has not seen a case of polio in more than twelve months. Looking back on ‘The Final Inch’ provides a glimpse of what it took to achieve such remarkable progress.

Over 38 minutes, the film charts the stories of those overseeing the operation from Delhi and abroad, vaccinators and social mobilizers working at the grassroots and those who survived the United States’ mass polio epidemics of the 1950s. Local health workers are the stars of the film, calmly dealing with the queries and objections of concerned parents and communities. The documentary provides insights into the challenges faced by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), in India and elsewhere, and emphasizes that, in the end, trust will play a large role in whether the GPEI will succeed.

The efforts of those featured in the film, and millions just like them, are responsible for India’s success, and their efforts will continue until the country can be sure that is free from the threat of polio. ‘The Final Inch’, directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky, was recognized with a nomination for the 2009 Academy Awards. With the passing of a year since the country saw its most recent case, perhaps this non-violent army deserves similar recognition.

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