Amitabh Bachchan is Unicef's Goodwill ambassador

NEW DELHI: The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef) has announced that Amitabh Bachchan has agreed to become its newest Goodwill ambassador. He will promote the rights of children in India and around the world.

Bachchan had the following remarks to make - ?I am extremely pleased to accept this responsibility. I hope that by adding my voice to the cause of children, it will make a difference in the lives of boys and girls here at home and across the region.?

Unicef approached the Big B because of his enormous popularity, credibility and appeal as a genuine humanitarian. As a Unicef ambassador Bachchan will periodically speak on issues critical to the lives of children, such as HIV/AIDs, polio eradication and the need for all girls to have an opportunity to go to school.

An official release informs that the film star contributed significantly to the governments Pulse Polio Immunisation programme earlier this year. He appeared in a series of television and radio commercials. These spots played an instrumental role in convincing parents to immunise their children. A research survey of 10,000 respondents conducted in Uttar Pradesh in February 2003 indicated that 67 per cent of the people who brought their children to the polio booth were exposed to the Bachchan spots.

92 per cent cited the Bachchan spots as having an influence on their decision get their child immunised. Only 164 polio cases have been reported in India this year, the lowest number ever recorded. This is a significant turnaround from the polio outbreak in 2002 in which 1600 children contracted polio.

The Unicef representative in India Maria Calivie added, "Mr. Bachchan?s tremendous appeal to young people makes him an ideal Goodwill Ambassador. When he speaks, people from all walks of life, from the youngest to the oldest, listen carefully. Our hope is to leverage Mr. Bachchan?s powerful connection with the people of India to make a difference in children?s lives, as he has already done for polio."

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