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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid