Despite declared ‘Polio Free’, Why India needs to sustain efforts to prevent reintroduction of virus

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Dr. Nischal Pandey from Rotary International

A nationwide Pulse Polio Immunization drive to administer polio vaccine to children below the age of 5 was conducted in all districts across the country on Polio Day on Sunday. The nation had detected the last case of wild poliovirus in West Bengal in 2011. The victim then an 18-month-old girl named Rukhsar from Howrah district was infected with type 1 poliovirus.

However, India was declared Polio-tree by the WHO South East Asia Regional Office on March 27, 2014. Dr. Nischal Pandey from Rotary International said, “Even after 10 years of being declared Polio-free, the threat from the virus persists as India shared borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan, who continue to be Polio endemic”.

Dr Pandey underlined that India needs to sustain its high-quality efforts to prevent re- introduction of polio, and to ensure all children are protected from the disease. He also administered the vaccine to a child in a polio booth in Gurugram. He was speaking at a polio booth held in association with Rotary Internation.

“The network that has been established for Polio can continue to be used to immunize children against other preventable diseases and support additional health service: that ensure even the most vulnerable children have a healthy start to life”, he said.

India committed to resolution passed by World Health Assembly for global polio eradication in 1988. National Immunization Day (NID) commonly known as Pulse Polio Immunization programme was launched in India in 1995 and is conducted twice in early part of each year. Additionally multiple rounds (at least two) of sub national immunization day (SNID) have been conducted over the years in high-risk states/areas.

Over 170 million children are immunized during each NIC and 77 million in SNID. Surveillance for detection of polic virus transmission is being done through acute flaccid paralysis (AFP Surveillance) with laboratory network sin 1997.