News / Health

India Reaches Polio-Free Milestone

India Reaches Polio-Free Milestonei
X
January 14, 2014
It's been three years since India has recorded a new case of polio, a critical achievement that puts the entire region on target to be certified polio-free. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
TEXT SIZE - +
For three years, India has not recorded a new case of polio, a critical achievement that puts the entire region on target to be certified polio-free.

Eradicating the crippling disease from India has been one of the greatest challenges in the global effort, costing $2 billion since 1995.

Before then, the disease claimed 50,000 to 100,000 victims every year, according to the World Health Organization, mostly children under five years old.

“There were many critics who felt it was impossible to eradicate polio from India,” said Steve Cochi, senior advisor in the global immunization division at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

High population density, frequent migration, poor sanitation and weak health systems made fighting the disease a challenge.

Indian Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad credited the landmark achievement to “unwavering political will at the highest level, commitment of adequate financial resources, technological innovations as well as efforts of millions of workers.”

India falls under the World Health Organization’s Southeast Asia region, and WHO will meet in March to discuss certifying the region as polio-free.

Fighting rumors

One of the biggest challenges was overcoming disruptive rumors among some minority populations that the vaccine would harm their children.

A medical volunteer administers polio immunization drops to a child at a railway station in Allahabad, India, Jan. 13, 2014.A medical volunteer administers polio immunization drops to a child at a railway station in Allahabad, India, Jan. 13, 2014.
x
A medical volunteer administers polio immunization drops to a child at a railway station in Allahabad, India, Jan. 13, 2014.
A medical volunteer administers polio immunization drops to a child at a railway station in Allahabad, India, Jan. 13, 2014.
The campaign recruited academic, religious and community leaders, in some cases traveling house-to-house along with vaccinators, to dispel myths.

“It took some time, and some effort, but these things always do,” Cochi said. “I think that represents one of the most outstanding success stories, not only for India but for the world.”

Convincing skeptical neighborhoods also required broadening the services the campaign provided.

"Communities have more issues other than polio," said Carol Pandak, director of Rotary International's polio eradication program.

She says Rotary clubs sponsored health camps to provide vaccines for polio as well as other diseases, along with other health services.

They also enlisted thousands of community members living in polio hotspots to talk to their neighbors and make the case for vaccination.

"They could talk to their fellow community members unlike an outsider could," she added.

Related video from Rotary International-The Gates Foundation, "The Last Polio Ward in India":



Lessons learned in India are being applied in other trouble spots.

In Pakistan, for example, where several vaccinators have been killed, the campaign is enlisting prominent Muslim leaders to support the eradication effort.

Virus spread

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the last three countries where polio transmission has never stopped.

Virus from Pakistan caused an outbreak in Syria last year that claimed 17 victims. Fighting in Al-Raqa has interrupted a vaccination campaign aimed at containing the outbreak.

In a statement, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund condemned the interruption and called on “all parties to cease fighting immediately and permit completion of the life-saving polio campaign and delivery of other life-saving humanitarian interventions.”

The largest outbreak last year was in Somalia with 183 cases. The virus also spilled over and triggered outbreaks in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid