The World Health Organisation (WHO) is in a spot over an image of India minus Jammu & Kashmir that was displayed at a global conference in Geneva recently.
Sambhaji Zende, IAS officer and managing director of Haffkine Pharmaceuticals Corporation Ltd, who attended the meet on October 10, 2013, said the incorrect image was screened during a powerpoint presentation on the progress of the polio eradication programme across the world.
Zende was surprised to see the map without J&K and immediately pointed out the error to the organisers.
“During the break, I explained everything to the senior authorities of WHO, but they were not convinced. They said the maps had been approved by the respective countries,” Zende said.
“But when I explained to them that there was an area called PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) in J&K state that was disputed but very much part of India, they assured me that they would take up the matter with the higher authorities and make the necessary correction,” he said.
Zende explained that he raised the matter urgently because all countries are represented at this annual meeting and such mistakes should be corrected immediately so as to avoid spreading the wrong impression.
Representatives of national regulatory authorities from various countries and oral polio vaccine manufacturers were invited to the programme, the 12th Who/Unicef consultation on polio eradication. Haffkine is one of the largest manufacturers of polio vaccine in India and also supplies the vaccine to other countries.
After his return from Geneva, Zende wrote a letter on the matter to Dr Bruce Aylward, WHO director with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and addressed a copy to the Ministry of External Affairs.
“I have not received a reply as yet. I will pursue the matter till they assure me that they have corrected the mistake,” Zende said.