No New Polio Case in India for Third Consecutive Year
By PTI | Published: 13th January 2014 07:32 PM |
India Monday declared itself a polio-free country for the third consecutive year without a single new case of the disease and termed it as a "monumental milestone"
"It is a matter of pride for the nation that not a single case of polio has been detected in the three years. This is one of India's monumental and biggest milestone achieved, through a massive and sustained immunisation programme," Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
"India accounted for half of all the cases of polio reported globally in 2009. Within four and half years, we have been able to eradicate the crippling disease," Azad said adding that 36 months ago the last case was reported on January 13, 2011 when a two-year-old girl suffered polio paralysis in Howrah district of West Bengal. 741 cases were reported in 2009, 42 in 2010 and one case in 2011.
An official function to celebrate the occasion will he held on 11 February in which President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and WHO Director General Margaret Chan along with international NGOs will be present.
On the issue of risks of infection from neighbouring countries, Azad said "right from the beginning, we have vaccinating the children coming from Pakistan when they would cross the border. There are some other neighbouring countries from where people come here by air and we have already issued advisories a few months back that they will not be allowed to come unless they have been vaccinated in their respective countries.
He further said his next focus is going to on non-communicable dieses, that is cancer, diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases.
Polio or infantile paralysis, is a viral, infectious disease which spread from person to person, primarily via the fecal-oral route. Polio, which usually infects children under the age of five, can be prevented by vaccine and has been eliminated in most countries.
The disease still causes paralysis and death in some parts of the world including Nigeria, Pakistan and Afganistan.
India succeeded in its drive against polio through intense pulse polio immunisation under the Global Polio Eradication Initiative launched in 1988.
Under the initiative, over 17 crore children were vaccinated in each round of vaccination with the help of 24 lakh vaccinators.