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India off WHO’s polio endemic list

February 26, 2012

India’s name has been struck off a shame list that the country hopes will not include it in the future. World Health Organization has taken India, which in 2009 had more polio cases than any other nation in the world, off its polio endemic list after not a single case of the crippling disease was reported for over a year.
Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad made the announcement on Saturday at a function where Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was present. Now, only Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan are on the list as India has achieved a hard-fought success after years of sustained effort by the government, international agencies and dedicated medical professionals.
For the next two years, if India does not report any polio cases, it will be officially called ‘polio free’. Azad said: “WHO has taken India’s name off the list of polio endemic countries in view of the remarkable progress that we have made during the past one year. Let us today resolve to make India polio-free by 2014.” India’s last case of polio was reported on January 13, 2011 from West Bengal.
Working to eradicate polio, thousands of volunteers have slogged in densely populated areas with poor hygiene and battled socio-religious prejudice. It has meant working under difficult conditions and convincing local leaders, including religious figures, to support the anti-polio campaign.
According to the PM, the real credit for this major achievement goes to the 23 lakh volunteers who repeatedly vaccinated children “even in the most remote areas, often in very bad weather conditions. I commend each one of them for their dedication, for their commitment and for selfless service”.
India recorded 741 cases of polio in 2009 — nearly half the number of global cases. But in a remarkable turn of events, India reported one case of the disease last year and recorded zero cases in over 12 months since then.
Globally, the fight against the crippling disease received a major impetus last year with India’s successful containment of the virus.
Categories: Public Health
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