News / Asia

One Year On, India Fights to Remain Polio-Free

One Year On, India Fights to Remain Polio-Freei
X
March 01, 2013 5:07 PM
A year ago, the World Health Organization confirmed that polio was no longer endemic in India. The South Asian country went from accounting for half the world’s cases in 2009 to only one new case in early 2011. VOA correspondent Aru Pande takes a look at how India was able to achieve the feat - and is working to ensure that no new polio cases arise.
One Year On, India Fights to Remain Polio-Free
Aru Pande
A year ago, the World Health Organization confirmed that polio was no longer endemic in India.  The South Asian country went from accounting for half the world’s cases in 2009 to only one new case in early 2011. 

To get a sense of how India was able to fight the highly contagious and crippling polio virus, one does not have to look any further than this home - in a Muslim-majority area of Ghaziabad, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
 
Asma Khatun is a mother of two.

"Whenever anyone comes, we get the children vaccinated.  Even if nobody came to our house, we would send our children [to a clinic] to get vaccinated," she said.
 
As a government and UNICEF team go house to house to inoculate children against polio -- they are not met with any opposition.
 
Nasreen Jahan, who says she has the paralyzing disease, looks on as her baby receives polio drops.

“I have a hard time walking, and I don’t want my kids to have the same disease," she said.
 
UNICEF says that, just 25 years ago, polio crippled an estimated 200,000 children in India each year.  And many experts predicted that India would be the last country to eradicate polio.  

Millions of dollars and vaccine doses later - India went from reporting 741 cases in 2009 to just one in 2011.
 
UNICEF says teams of health workers like this one, targeting high-risk areas, have been key in the fight.
 
Women like Zareena Parveen spend hours among families in their own neighborhoods, convincing parents of the importance of vaccinating their children while also dispelling misinformation about the vaccine.

“They used to think that our children will become sterile and will not be able to have children when they grow up," she said. "They used to think like this before… but now they don’t, now they allow their kids to get the drops.”

Local Muslim institutions and community leaders have also been instrumental in spreading the word at festivals, mosques and schools. 

Maulana Noor Hasan Qasmi says there's a difference between his community in India and those in the remaining polio-endemic countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria - where gunmen have killed vaccinators.

“The polio vaccination campaign has been successful here because our Muslim scholars are with us.  With their support, we are able to make people understand that giving children the vaccine is beneficial and crucial," he said.
 
The Indian Health Ministry last month launched a nationwide immunization campaign - with a goal of vaccinating 170 million children under the age of five.  The effort will focus on the most vulnerable populations - including newborns, migrants and those living in high-risk areas.

If no new cases of polio are reported in India by 2014, the country will officially be declared polio-free.  But UNICEF warns there is no room for complacency and that India must remain vigilant in protecting children until polio is eradicated world-wide.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs