News / Health

    India Reaches Polio-Free Milestone

    India Reaches Polio-Free Milestonei
    X
    January 14, 2014 8:52 AM
    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.
    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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.